Inter Milan have upped the stakes in their battle with fierce rivals AC Milan for the signature of Carlos Tevez after they released a statement confirming they had held talks with Manchester City.
AC Milan had appeared to be in the driving seat for the signature of the wantaway striker, but the move hit a stumbling block in December after Manchester City turned down the offer of a loan deal with the option to buy Tevez at the end of next season for £19 million.
City remain adamant that a cash-up-front deal is the only way that Tevez will be allowed to leave the cub in January.
The Rossoneri’s reluctance to thrash out a deal has allowed Inter to swoop in and hold talks, with Inter's technical director Marco Branca and Brian Marwood meeting on Thursday.
Reports earlier in the week suggested Inter were ready to step up their interest in the former West Ham and Manchester United forward.
While media reports initially suggested Wesley Sneijder was the subject of conversations between the two sides, Inter’s statement has led to speculation it was in fact a deal for Tevez being discussed.
The statement read: "Regarding reports from the British media, Inter Milan technical director Marco Branca wishes to underline and clarify the situation immediately that there were no discussions whatsoever regarding Wesley Sneijder during our meeting in London with representatives of Manchester City."
In a further twist however, Tevez was today pictured on the front of Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport posing alongside advisor Kia Joorabchian and AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani, prompting speculation a deal between Manchester City and AC Milan is close to being done.
Joorabchabin remained adamant that AC Milan were the only club that had tabled an offer to date, although Inter, who expressed an interest in Tevez over the summer, are likely to increase their interest soon.
Tevez has been in exile from the Etihad Stadium since he was suspended and fined for refusing to warm up in Manchester City’s 2-0 Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich in September.