AWOL striker Carlos Tevez has jetted into Manchester tonight for reconciliatory talks with his club Manchester City. But what effect could the return have on Roberto Mancini's side’s title chase?
The Argentine international has been frozen out by the Citizens since refusing to warm up during 2-0 loss away at Munich on September 27.
After weeks of training alone at City's Carrington training ground, Tevez absconded to Argentina, leading to the former Manchester United and West Ham player reportedly incurring a loss of £9.6m through fines and loss of wages.
In the Munich aftermath, Mancini vowed that the forward would never play for him again. Since then the Manchester club have sought to offload the want away striker.
But as the ongoing negotiations with the likes Paris St. Germain and both Milan clubs fell through an apparent thawing of the animosity between the two parties seems to have begun.
Time, it seems in this instance, is a healer. And, provided the 28-year-old agrees to drop his appeal to the Premier League over a six week fine of £1.2m, the controversial striker may well play apart in City's attempt to claim their first league title since 1968.
In the absence of last season’s top scorer, City have clung onto pole position in the title race, but have also suffered early exits in both the Champions League and the FA Cup.
Their strikers have all hit goal scoring form but have also had their fair share of baron spells. Fortunately for City, the inconsistent form of their forwards have until now not overlapped.
But with Mario Balotelli missing through suspension and Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko ineffective in attack during the weekend's 1-0 win at Aston Villa, cracks have begun to appear in City's title credentials.
And, with Manchester United hot on their heels, City cannot afford to wait until a goal drought occurs to solve the problem.
February and March is famously the time where United step up into their championship winning gear and seven points in their three away games at Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea recently are clear indicators that this year is no exception.
Mancini will be well aware that in order to compete and not capitulate, as so many other challenges have done in the past during this period, City will need to be seamless.
The Italian will also know how important Joleon Lescott's goal was on Monday, but will also be aware that he cannot rely on set pieces alone, if his strike force fails to hit top gear. He needs an additional weapon at his disposal, one proven at this level.
And with the transfer window now closed, the question for Manchester City, their fans and their manager to decide is whether they can afford not to give Tevez a second chance?
The former Boca Juniors forward is an undoubted asset to any title chasing side. Through scoring or assisting, the Argentine played a part in over half of City's Premier League goals last season.
He is a proven match winner and thrives on the big occasion. Refreshed and with a point to prove, the former City captain could well be the difference between first and second place come the final day of the season on May 13.
But, having handed in several transfer requests and making no secret of his desire to move closer to his young family in Buenos Aires, questions will remain over his loyalty.
Football fans are often known for being an unforgiving bunch. However, a poll conducted by GiveMeFootball on Monday found that an astounding 83% of City fans would be happy to see Tevez back at the Etihad Stadium.
As well as receiving support from the fans, his teammates have also been quick to dispel suggestions that any potential return could prove disruptive to the City dressing room. Pablo Zabaleta told SkySports, that although the affair had been an unwelcome distraction to the City players, they have forgiven Tevez.
"He would be welcomed by the players, because it was a difficult situation for everybody. But most important is that we are doing well as a team.
"I miss Carlos and we haven't seen him for a long time. In this situation we have to be very calm.
"People talk too much about it, for sure, about when he will be back, but we have to concentrate and be focused on what we are doing.
"This situation has been crazy for everybody, for the players, the club and especially for Carlos. If we see him coming back this week, it depends on the manager's decision whether he is given another chance or not.”
It appears that the stage is now set for the Tevez's return. And although the second coming of Argentinean is unlikely to produce another billboard, it seems Carlos Tevez will receive a ‘welcome to Manchester’.
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