Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims Carlos Tevez has committed his future to the club.
The Argentina star told Mancini in a midweek meeting that he wanted to stay at City, despite the club missing out on a place in next season's UEFA Champions League.
Tevez had been heavily tipped to quit Eastlands this summer after reportedly becoming disenchanted with life under his new boss. But Mancini insists the former West Ham and Manchester United forward is keen to stay and help the Blues become a major top-flight force.
"I have spoken with Carlos and asked him whether he was happy to stay here," revealed Mancini. "He said he was very happy, that he wanted to improve and wanted to win with Manchester City. This is important. Carlos is a top player. He can set the example for the others."
Tevez collected City's player of the year award last night, a fitting accolade after his stellar first season following such a controversial move from United.
However, recent complaints about Mancini's preference for double training sessions were the first signs of a rift between manager and player, which the Italian is happy to quash.
"I have told him that in any week where we don't have a midweek match on one day we must have two training sessions," he said. "Because we have qualified for the Europa League, the chances are we will be playing nearly every Thursday and Sunday. But if we want to improve we must work harder than this year."
Mancini's own future was confirmed by chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak in his statement to the club's website yesterday afternoon. Not that the City chief needed any clarification. He already knew a statement he came out with on the day he was unveiled last December had been misinterpreted.
"What Khaldoon said was important," he said. "When I first came I said my contract was six months, plus three years. People thought I said six months and (only) if I finished fourth would I stay for another three years."
Mancini will sit down for a full season debrief with chief executive Garry Cook and football director Brian Marwood next week to thrash out plans for next season. Funds will be placed at the Italian's disposal to strengthen in the areas he feels City fell short this year as they try to improve on what could end up being a fifth-placed finish.
A more immediate priority is the fitness of Gareth Barry, whose 2010 FIFA World Cup™ dream is now in the hands of Fabio Capello after Mancini confirmed the midfielder could be sidelined for four weeks by the ankle injury he suffered against Spurs on Wednesday.
Initial indications were that Barry had suffered a sprain. This has now been amended to ligament damage, which will definitely rule the former Aston Villa star out of England's friendlies against Mexico and Japan later this month and leave Capello to decide whether to include him in a 30-man provisional squad that will be announced on Tuesday.
Mancini will probably offer Capello's trusted right-hand man Franco Baldini an update at West Ham on Sunday, although the City chief is keeping his fingers crossed.
"Gareth is a fantastic guy and a fantastic player," said Mancini. "I hope he can play in the World Cup but Fabio Capello and his medical staff must decide. He deserves to play in the World Cup."
On a four-week timescale, Barry would still have a week to get fit prior to England's Group C opener with the United States in Rustenburg on 12 June.
By then, Mancini will be more certain in his mind which players will shape City's future, which he insists will be bright.
"I don't think players will leave but I don't know," he said. "I want players here to be happy and want to win with Manchester City. This is a chance to create my team, which is important for a manager. It is not easy when you arrive in the middle of the season because you don't know the players very well.
"When you start in pre-season you can buy the players you like. You can do your job from the first day and next season I am sure we can do a very good job."