Straight from the dark heart of Italy
They couldn't could they? After everything Carlos Tevez has done - his every outburst publicised and chronicled in many languages and televised for all to see - Italian giants AC Milan have elbowed their way to the front of the queue to sign the Argentinian forward.
While the queue of clubs interested in the 27-year-old's services has shortened in recent weeks, the club known as il Diavolo ('The Devil') tabled an offer to take him off Manchester City's hands - and out of Roberto Mancini's increasingly greying hair - when the transfer window opens in January.
The Premier League club are said to have rejected their initial offer but, despite the player's refusal to play and his extended - and unauthorised - stay in Argentina, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has tasked himself with trying to seal a deal to take the former Boca Juniors man on loan for the rest of the season.
There is no doubting how good a player he is when the mood takes; he was the Premier League's top goal scorer last season, while his huge desire and work-rate have made him a stand-out player at every club he has played for, not to mention more popular in his homeland than even Lionel Messi.
Other clubs have been put off by a combination of his sheer unprofessionalism and a 'representative' who with each passing day grows more and more akin to the Al Pacino character in the film Devil's Advocate ("Freedom, Carlitos.... is never having to say you're sorry"), all but leaving the San Siro giants in a position to dictate terms to Manchester City.
This offer has quickly been dismissed by many observers, but to do so is to overlooked the influence and negotiating skills of Milan vice president Adriano Galliani.
Time and again Berlusconi has dispatched his man to bring home a player and, on almost every occasion, Galliani has delivered.
Here is a man who, in July 2008, watched Barcelona turn down a £25.5 million offer from Manchester City for Ronaldinho only to somehow convince them to accept his own bid of £14.5 million that same month. He returned to the Catalan club last summer for Zlatan Ibrahimović - a player with a €250 million release clause in his contract – completing a €24m deal just thirteen months after Barca had paid Inter over €69m for the Swede.
Galliani's list of great deals doesn't end there either. He has already taken advantage of Manchester City, signing their €42.5 million man Robinho for €18 million. He has Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani on a loan deal that will cost just €6 million to make permanent should the English club’s €25 million signing from Roma play 25 games this season. The 67 year old also convinced Genoa to loan Milan Kevin-Prince Boateng just hours after they had signed him from Portsmouth.
It is hardly a recent trend either, back at the start of the new millenium he engineered a swap deal with Inter, sending their city cousins Francesco Coco and Guly in exchange for two other players you may not have heard much about, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo.
As well as being a move typical of Galliani, the capture of Tevez would also fit well alongside some of Milan's other recent captures. While many questioned how Massimiliano Allegri, the coach who led the club to the title in his debut season, would cope with so many big egos, he moulded them into a title-winning team with very little fuss.
Of course, Zlatan has fought with the occasional team-mate, the big Swede can only play nicely with others for so long, but on the whole every one of those potential trouble-makers has bought into Allegri's ideals and they have all benefited.
Two major factors are firstly the remoteness of the club's training ground, the famed Milanello complex is very isolated and there is little admittance to the media. Secondly that the majority of news outlets in Italy are owned by a certain Silvio Berlusconi only helps to reduce any negative press that might otherwise blight such an opinionated group of players.
Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to Tevez, but the former Italian Prime Minister made clear his position on the possible move when he spoke to Sky Italia earlier this week.
"The situation that regards Tevez is very clear, he has to choose between two solutions: prestige and money. Milan represent prestige, the possibility of being seen all over the world and to win the Ballon d'Or. On the other hand, PSG, who represent Qatar, is the chance of a big wage. Now it's up to him to choose."
It's hard to know with Tevez. He frightens the life out of defenders and could be great, but it's just too much of a risk. Galliani knows how to bring the price down on a player alright, but the players themselves have not always worked out. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Emerson, Robinho, Zambrotta and the like were never likely to succeed. And none did. Instead of Tevez, I think Milan should sell Robinho and go for Jovetic and a decent left-back like Armero.
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