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Some thoughts on the Tevez transfer request

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Some sense of timing eh?

Hours after going joint top (albeit likely for twenty-four hours or so) thanks to a comfortable victory achieved without Carlos Tevez, news broke that the News of The World were going to run with a story stating that Carlos Tevez had handed a written transfer request.

Even further, it came just days after this interview on the official site in which Tevez stated his happiness with all things City.

As the news began to break further and further across the media, the News of The World sent me this PR blurb both confirming the story and including some of the content from Neil Ashton's story; what could have initially been dismissed as a fanciful story now appeared to have plenty of substance.

By now you will of course have read plenty on the issue and know that Tevez indeed did submit a written transfer request, and the club countered this by swiftly rejecting it.

Tevez's problems with Roberto Mancini have been well documented - and I have been privately told of incidents between them that haven't made their way into the public domain - yet his performances have not dropped: if anything been better than at any stage of his career. Ten Premier League goals so far this season point to the fact he is on pace to exceed last seasons endeavours.

But what are the reasons? Some or all of homesickness, money and a fractious relationship with Mancini have been suggested, with the relationship with Mancini the most discussed. Tevez was clever to praise both the ownership and fans in a statement but said he 'cannot face life at City anymore.' 

City (in a very smart statement this morning) immediately rejected the request and dismissed all factors with the exception of money, clearly pointing the finger at Tevez's advisors, also revealing the fact that he is the highest paid player at the club and that the Tevez camp have attempted 'on a number of occasions' to renegotiate his contract (which still has three and a half years to run):

The Club remains disappointed by this situation and particularly with the actions of Carlos' representative.

Significantly, over recent months, the Club has also received numerous requests from Carlos' representative to renegotiate and improve his playing contract as well as more recently a request to extend that contract by another year.

However, in line with the Club's policy of not negotiating playing contracts mid-season this has not been granted.  Carlos' current five-year contract has three-and-a-half years to run and he is the highest paid player at the Manchester City Football Club.

City of course can without Tevez, but the loss would be huge. Effervescence, passion and spirit are in abundance but does a disservice to him in only focussing on these traits. Only seeing him week in week out you see what a very good player he is and could be the difference maker between finishing inside and outside the top four, or even beyond.

Do not forget though that as important as he has been to the club, the club has equally been important to him. He is very much the main figure at the club (even building those campaigns around him) despite the influx of big money players, put at the very heart of what the club is trying to achieve and in many ways have built a side and formation around his strengths - an indulgence he wasn't afforded at United (and if we are being honest, unlikely elsewhere). Furthermore, he was also handed the captaincy of the club. An overrated gesture in my opinion, but in the scheme of things a significant appointment.

His importance is underlined further by a lack of alternatives. Mario Balotelli stepped in at West Ham in his role, and despite his prodigious talent and being a more natural finisher than Tevez, he is not ready for the responsibility full-time. Jo is not trusted centrally and Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor are have both seemingly been cast out as pariahs. The price tag for Edin Dzeko may well have just increased by an extra few million or so.

What next then? As I mentioned City have been clever with their response. Tevez going public was designed to force the issue and City have put the ball firmly back in the court of the Tevez camp to now force a move. Tevez has spoken of wanting to move back to Argentina, but it is extremely unlikely (as we saw with Robinho) that a side would a) afford a fee commensurate with the amount of time left on his contract, and b) come anywhere close to matching his current wage.

The difficulty for Tevez is that a move to the Premier League or La Liga for instance immediately quashes the notion of homesickness, meaning it is either down to money or Mancini. If Tevez is aiming to 'take on' Mancini he is playing a dangerous game indeed. The board have been very firm in their backing of Mancini to date and it is unthinkable they would dispense with him to appease a player, regardless of it being one of the stature of Tevez. It will also mean that he sets himself up against the rest of the squad, who for all the talk of disharmony within it, have played with a unified spirit and bought into Mancini's ethos and methods. Tevez may be a popular figure at the club, but it is inconceivable this is the catalyst that triggers a squad mutiny.

Of course there is no guarantee that Tevez will be going anywhere; in fact, it will probably be the least surprising outcome of all. Tevez has three and a half years remaining on his contract, so there is no requirement to cash in or risk losing the player for nothing and as we saw with Wayne Rooney (whose on transfer request was far more acrimonious with club and fans) an improbable about-turn can happen. If he does remain at the club, Tevez will no longer be captain though. It is surely time for the armband to be passed to Vincent Kompany. Erudite, respected and a leadership figure, he was the ideal candidate before Tevez was given the job, and he should now take over on a full-time basis.

It is set to be an interesting few days with spin, claim and counter-claim firing back and forth - and certainly adds some interest to my trip to Turin this week. Whatever the outcome, City have put themselves in a very good position this season - heavily influenced by Tevez of course - but cannot afford to let these levels drop as they seek to cement a top four spot and more.

There looks to be three basic choices - stay, go or 'agreement' on a transfer say in the summer or 18 months time, and in some ways the club have to look at United's handling of  the Rooney situation and at least ensure that it is brought to a swift conclusion and keep matters focussed on the pitch, not off it.