Manchester City's Carlos Tevez has only 12 months to run on his contract, and the club are looking at exit solutions so they don't lose him for free next year.
One possible avenue is to sell him to AC Milan, and while discussing the transfer of Tevez to San Siro, City's interest in the Rossoneri's prodigal talent Stephan El Shaarawy emerged.
The idea of a swap deal has surfaced, but there's no way Milan can justify swapping El Shaarawy for Tevez—even if there's a massive sum of cash on the side.
The Mirror have revealed quotes from Milan CEO Adriano Galliani on the Tevez contact:
"Carlitos won't betray me," Galliani said before showing off a text message from [agent Kia] Joorabchian.
"I like Carlitos a lot, because he's a "nasty" player. His wages? There will be no problems with Tevez."
On the flip side, no one appears particularly keen to be rid of El Shaarawy—not even the player himself.
"I don't think I will leave Milan," he told La Repubblica, via FOX Sports. "If City really wants me, it flatters me. But I want to stay here at AC Milan."
There is no single way that Milan could possibly end up winning from a situation in which the two clubs trade players.
Recruiting Carlos Tevez, who they missed out on in January 2012, would be a major coup for the club currently struggling to keep up with Juventus in Serie A, but he's no long-term option.
His astronomical wages, shocking track record of disgruntlement and age (29) mean he's not worth a huge fee, and Milan could be best served waiting it out for a further 12 months and signing him for free.
In April, Lee Bryan of The Daily Mail reported that Tevez would join hometown club Boca Juniors "tomorrow" if he could, but City wouldn't let him go cheaply.
It's been reported for some time that he wants to return to Argentina for his family's sake, and the 2011-12 season's Bavarian debacle remains fresh in the minds of many.
El Shaarawy, on the other hand, appears likely to become the next San Siro hero, playing more than a decade in the shirt and wowing fans year after year.
They've taken to him, and he to them: It's a perfect partnership at one of the world's biggest clubs, and he remains their best left-sided player.
Milan simply cannot know Tevez won't do to them what he did to City—shy away due to home-sickness—and he's hardly a risk-free signing given the money involved.
El Shaarawy, on the other hand, has no character concerns, and his best years lay ahead of him.
Milan have one of the brightest young talents in Europe on the books: Why would they trade him away, even for £30 million plus Tevez, to a side they should be competing alongside?
Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic left last season, El Shaarawy cannot leave now. The Milan directors will be walking the thinnest of tight ropes should they sanction a swap.