Manchester City shelve Tevez contract talks until the summer

The Argentine striker is among three senior players, along with Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott, who have yet to open negotiations over a new deal with the Premier League champions
By Greg Stobart

Manchester City are set for a pivotal summer as a number of senior players approach the end of their contracts.

Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott all have contracts until 2014 and no talks are planned yet over new deals for the trio.

It raises questions over the players' futures at the Etihad Stadium, especially as City usually look to tie their stars down once they enter the final two years of their contracts.

Tevez, Barry and Lescott, who earn more than £400,000-a-week between them, all joined City under Mark Hughes in 2009 as the club’s Abu Dhabi owners made their mark on the transfer market.

But new director of football Txiki Begiristain is determined to get more value for money at City as he assesses the current squad and identifies future stars to strengthen the team.

Sources have told that Tevez is already considering running down his contract and leaving as a free agent at the end of next season to realise his dream of returning to Argentina and playing for boyhood team Boca Juniors.

Lescott was due to hold talks over a new contract in the New Year but the 30-year-old defender has increasingly found himself out of favour this season since being blamed by manager Roberto Mancini for goals conceded in the Champions League defeat at Ajax in October.

Likewise, the Premier League champions are taking a more considered approach towards Barry, 31, as they look to build a younger squad and trim their wage bill to meet Uefa’s financial fair play regulations.

Of equal concern to City are the futures of Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and James Milner, who will all enter the final two years of their deals next summer.

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Balotelli is a target for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, with City ready to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on whether to make the temperamental Italian striker available for transfer.

Toure’s representatives have previously suggested the Ivorian midfielder may seek a new challenge and consider a return to Spain.

That was interpreted by the City hierarchy as a negotiating tactic ahead of contract talks, but the club are unlikely to offer him a better deal that his current package worth more than £200,000 a week including add-ons and bonuses.

City envisage few problems in agreeing terms with Milner as the 26-year-old midfielder is entering his prime and earns less than the club’s stellar names.

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