ESPNsoccernet can reveal that Inter Milan lodged a formal bid for Carlos Tevez on Thursday night in an effort to steal him from under the noses of rivals AC Milan.
Both Milan clubs are in direct contact with City and a bidding process is finally underway after months of posturing.
AC Milan have been talking with Tevez's representatives for months about a January move, while Inter technical director Marco Branca travelled to England for talks on Thursday. Inter have now followed up with a formal bid, just as agent Kia Joorabchian was holding talks with Rossoneri chief executive Adriano Galliani to, as he put it, "finalise with Milan".
A source close to the transfer activity said: "Both Milan clubs are now in the frame, and meetings have taken place. City have not accepted any offers as yet."
Joorabchian had earlier confirmed to ESPNsoccernet via text message that he was talking terms with Galliani. However, while AC Milan would be the striker's preferred destination, the better offer is more likely to emerge from Inter.
Gazzetta dello Sport suggests Milan still want to take Tevez on loan but are prepared to include a cause that would make his purchase obligatory if he plays in more than 50% of the club's games in the remainder of the season. City, meanwhile, are still looking to raise €35 million from his sale and have indicated that they would be prepared to hold onto the striker rather than accept a derisory offer.
The funds are not, however, intended for a replacement forward. Sergio Aguero arrived at the club in the summer when City expected Tevez to depart for Corinthians and, although Roberto Mancini has not ruled out the signing of another striker, his priorities lie in midfield.
Mancini said at his press conference on Thursday that he hoped a deal for Tevez could be reached within "three or four days" and added: "We hope for us and for Carlos we can do a deal. There are two or three teams in Italy, a team in France, and another team involved.
"I hope for him he can start to play football. We could maybe bring someone in, but we need to sell."
Inter have moved to deny claims Wesley Sneijder could be the man to bolster the City midfield.
Reports in Italy and England had suggested Branca's meeting had involved discussion of the Netherlands international, but he wrote on the club's official website: "In no way, and entirely down to our own wishes, did we discuss Sneijder in today's meeting in London with Manchester City directors."
• Catch action from every Barclays Premier League match on your mobile for FREE on the enhanced ESPN Goals app (UK only).