Carlos Tevez has issued a warning to Manchester United, accusing them of failing to offer him a permanent deal and rebuffing Sir Alex Ferguson’s claim that he had turned down a contract offer.
In his most outspoken interview yet, the Argentine striker told Radio del Plata that he would accept a five year deal from “any club in the world” for his own peace of mind.
This outburst is unlikely to be well received by the United boss, and has prompted reports in Spain that Real Madrid are readying an offer.
And the Argentine’s comments add further weight to the prospect of a surprise transfer in the January window: “I’ve been waiting for them for a year and a half," Tevez said. "If I have to quit the club, I want to quit on good terms. Now all clubs are on an equal footing. If a club comes to me and offers me a five-year deal, I will accept it for peace of mind.
"Who wouldn't want to play for Real Madrid? Like Manchester, they are one of the best clubs in the world - and it would be a pleasure to play for them."
The United striker was speaking in response to Ferguson’s claim that a permanent deal was being held up by the player and his agent Kia Joorabchian, the MSI businessman who owns the economic rights to Tévez. United will have to pay a fee of around £32 million to MSI to sign him on a permanent basis.
United are understood to have offered Tevez around £80,000-a-week, though the Argentine international is understood to be demanding parity with Wayne Rooney, who earns more than £100,000 a week.
Muddying the waters further, Tevez struck a direct attack at Sir Alex Ferguson, accusing the Manchester United manager of deceiving the media by suggesting that his striker has already rejected a contract offer: “I didn’t like him [Ferguson] saying I didn’t like the offer I was made because neither my agent [Joorabchian] nor me were given one," he said.
“It bothers me that I have to start messing about with the fans who give me their affection in each game.”
Ferguson is obviously an admirer of Tévez and will surely want to keep hold of the player, who has recently established himself as a key squad player. Like the talismanic Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Tevez has come off the bench to score several crucial goals, including the winning goal against Stoke on Boxing day.
The difference between Tevez and Solskjaer, however, is that the Argentine has become frustrated with his role as a squad player behind the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, who was given the No 9 shirt, which the Argentinean is understood to covet.
Although Tévez, whose two-year loan agreement expires at the end of the season, has said on many occasions that he wants to remain with the English, European and World champions, he has made it clear to United that if they do not match his representative's valuation, he would have little choice but to leave if another club shows more commitment to securing his services.
“I don’t know anything on my future," he said. "United know they must pay if they want me to stay.”
Therein lies the predicament, as United appear reluctant to match Joorabchian’s £32 million valuation. The English champions have already paid around £10 million to “loan” Tévez for two seasons, but there appears to be a clear disagreement between how much more they are willing to pay and what Joorabchian is demanding.
The reality is that Tévez could well leave Old Trafford in January and, in doing so, reduce Sir Alex Ferguson’s attacking options to less experienced players, such as Danny Welbeck. Fraizer Campbell could be recalled from his loan spell at Tottenham, particularly with the North London club expected to re-sign Jermain Defoe.
Both parties – United and Tevez – clearly retain a hope that an agreement can be reached. For now, however, the ball has been firmly passed back to United, and they must act quickly to prevent the situation escalating out of their control, risking the loss of Tevez to one of their European rivals.
Story by James McConnell
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