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Manchester City line up Robin van Persie to replace Carlos Tevez

Robin van Persie is prominently in Roberto Mancini's thoughts as Manchester City plan for life without Carlos Tevez and reluctantly prepare to take a huge financial hit on the Argentinian.

The potential availability of the Arsenal captain, who is in the last two years of his contract and showing no desire to negotiate new terms, has been discussed at Eastlands, with the Dutchman already under consideration even before the controversy that has left Tevez a pariah at the club.

Mancini believes City will be fortunate to get £20m in the January transfer window for a player they valued at more than twice that amount in the summer. The club's owners in Abu Dhabi are clinging to the belief they can still get close to their original asking price but, in Manchester, they think that unlikely in the extreme given that those sums of money, with a £250,000-a-week salary also to be taken into account, put off potential buyers in the last window. One senior figure has acknowledged Tevez's value "is on the floor". Likewise, the player's camp are confident a £20m bid will persuade City to sell and that it could be even less.

After that, City's information is that Van Persie, 28, can be prised from Arsenal on an increasingly well-trodden route that has seen Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, Gaël Clichy and Samir Nasri make the same journey in recent years.

As Tevez began his two-week suspension, Mancini summoned his players to a team meeting before Thursday's training session to make it clear he would not tolerate any more of the kind of indiscipline that has fractured his relationship with the former captain.

There continues to be no sense of contrition from Tevez, despite the perhaps over-optimistic view from Abu Dhabi that there could be an apology and a reconciliation, and the club have begun the process of interviewing the players who were alongside Tevez on the bench at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena on Tuesday, when he apparently refused to play. Mancini's coaches have already sustained his complaints but the Tevez camp hope the players in question – Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner, Pablo Zabaleta and Joleon Lescott – will be reluctant to give evidence against him. Tevez's understanding is that the players, unwilling to go against one of their own, will cite the noise inside the stadium as why they cannot be clear what happened.

Mancini's preference is that the club, investigating a possible case of gross misconduct, do not terminate Tevez's contract, primarily because of the distraction a long, drawn-out affair, possibly heading to the courts, could cause. However, it is a reflection of how he has come to regard Tevez that his thinking is, in part, influenced by something more personal. Mancini, quite simply, does not want Tevez to become available on a free transfer because it would make it easier for the player to secure the big-club move he craves.

The manager would rather Tevez be isolated, training with the youth-team or on a one-on-one basis with a fitness coach, and then sold in January, albeit for a cut-price fee. For City, however, it is not straightforward. Uppermost in their thoughts is that ostracising the player could give him grounds to claim constructive dismissal.

City also have to be mindful that player contracts have been altered in the last few years to protect Professional Footballers' Association members, and the union would almost certainly appeal on Tevez's behalf if he were sacked. The club intend to fine Tevez two weeks' wages, around £500,000, but if they want to increase that amount they have to put it to the PFA for approval. The maximum is a six-week fine and with Tevez denying any wrongdoing and sticking to his story that it was "a misunderstanding", the PFA will be obliged to defend him even though their own chairman, Clarke Carlisle, has described what happened in Munich as "inexcusable".

The case is now out of Mancini's hands and assigned to the club's legal and HR departments, with the manager under instruction not to comment at Friday's press conference. A decision will come next week.

In the meantime there are threatening to be ramifications for Tevez with the Argentina national team. Tevez was left out of the last squad, with the coach Alejandro Sabella's explanation corroborating Mancini's account that the player is out of shape. Sabella spoke of someone who was "not fully fit … not training well at the moment and (had) put on a bit of weight", and will almost certainly exclude him for their forthcoming games.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Daniel Taylor, for The Guardian on Thursday 29th September 2011 23.18 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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