Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.
The London club have instructed super-agent Pini Zahavi to broker a deal that would see Tevez partner Fernando Torres in Chelsea’s attack next season.
City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners are aware that Zahavi has been tasked with landing the 27-year-old Argentine for Stamford Bridge benefactor Roman Abramovich.
But City are unlikely to contemplate selling their captain and top goalscorer to another Premier League club - even if they meet the asking price.
City boss Roberto Mancini last night insisted he would not stand in the way of any players who want to quit the club.
Mancini said: “I will fight for every player who wants to stay here - whether it is Carlos or another player.
“But I think it is difficult in 2011 to keep one player who does not stay at the club.
“Carlos has a contract, but I don’t know what is going to happen with him.”
Inter Milan and Juventus have both been linked with Tevez, while Real Madrid will also be in the market for a new striker in the summer after telling City that they will not meet their £12million valuation of Emmanuel Adebayor.
Those three clubs would be reluctant to meet City’s price.
Chelsea demonstrated with the £50million purchase of Torres from Liverpool in January that they are still willing to pay what it takes to land the right player.
But City’s financial position means they don’t have to sell the former Manchester United and West Ham striker to the highest bidder.