CARLOS Tevez is considering suing Roberto Mancini for defamation of character after the Manchester City manager accused him of refusing to play in the Champions League match away to Bayern Munich.
The development raises the extraordinary and unprecedented prospect of both men - and other players and officials at City - having to go to the British High Court to give evidence.
It is, potentially, a case that could cost millions of pounds to settle given the value of the player and the damage that Tevez feels has been done to his reputation and career by Mancini's allegations.
The 27-year-old striker is adamant that his only offence was a refusal to warm up again, having already done so during the second-half of the match, and it's believed that he considers the findings of City's disciplinary hearing against him, published last night, help vindicate his stance. If Tevez takes legal action, it will be against Mancini rather than City.
Tevez will appeal the decision, in any case, and is determined that the issue is dealt with by an independent Premier League tribunal.
If he carries through his threat of legal action, it could mean that the case is not fully resolved until deep into next year.
It is understood that despite being fined four weeks' wages by the City-convened tribunal yesterday after being found guilty of five counts of misconduct over what happened in Munich, Tevez believes that the body's findings actually support his case against Mancini.
This is partly because of the apparent failure to fully back Mancini's allegation on the night -- in his press conference and also to television cameras -- that Tevez refused to come on as a substitute.
It may be argued by City that it is a case of semantics -- separating out a refusal to play from a refusal to warm up -- but Tevez is adamant there is a difference, especially on a confused and heated evening on the City substitutes bench.
First, though, Tevez will appeal against the findings of City's investigation. Tevez has 14 days to formally announce his appeal to the club's directors, and should he do so and a ruling again go against him, he could appeal for a second time to the Premier League.
A City statement read: "Following a detailed investigation and associated hearing, a disciplinary panel has upheld the charge of misconduct. Five separate breaches of contract formed the basis of the decision by the panel.
"As a result, Carlos Tevez has been fined four weeks' wages and has been suspended for a period of two weeks (deemed to have already been served). He has received a written warning as to his future conduct.
"Carlos Tevez has been informed in writing of the decision of the disciplinary panel, and the club has written to the Professional Footballers' Association for ratification of the fine."
City appear determined to take a hard line over the matter and will not accede to any further desire on Tevez's part to leave the club without receiving what they consider due recompense.
Tevez has twice made transfer requests and a proposed move to Brazilian club Corinthians collapsed over the summer.
A club spokesman said: "I can confirm that following a call between Roberto and the chairman (Khaldoon Al Mubarak) today, the club's formal position is that no offer for Carlos Tevez will be considered unless it reflects true market value."
It's believed the club will allow Mancini to decide what happens to Tevez over the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2014.
He is theoretically available for selection but he seems highly unlikely to be recalled and the club will back whatever stance Mancini takes.