Keep Carlos Tevez, or make a truckload of savings? Carlos or cash? Cash or Carlos? Manchester City were boxed into an uncomfortable corner, with a tricky decision to make this summer.
And they’ve made the wrong call.
Commercially, it made perfect sense for the club to sell the striker to Juventus. Approaching the final year of his contract, having rejected a two-year extension offer in January, the Argentinean would have cost millions in wages, only to leave for his beloved Boca Juniors in 12 months time for free. If Tevez kept to his promise, that is.
This way, the deposed Premier League champions get to keep a stack load of salary money in the bank for a new player to pocket, while netting a bonus £7.5-10million fee on top - leaving The Old Lady to worry about his pathway to Boca. Whether the decision to cut their losses was prompted by fears of Financial Fair Play implications, or plain and simple economics, the sale was logical.
City must be chuffed to bits.
But (and this is a huge but) they’ve just lost their best player for a paltry, almost inconsequential fee, to a Champions League rival. Their side is now considerably weaker. In footballing terms, the decision to sell is self-destructive.
As a man, Tevez lacks the kind of charisma the British public want to see from their heroes. In seven years we’ve barely heard him an utter a word of English, and let’s be honest his smiles are as rare as a home defeat at the Etihad. We don’t know him. We don’t especially like him.
Yet as a footballer Carlos Tevez is revered by his fellow pros and managers.
This is a man who earns a basic salary of £198,000 a week, a player who has won the title with four different clubs in three countries, a person who openly admits he finds it hard to live outside of his native Argentina. On the pitch you’d never know it.
Playing with the enthusiasm of a teenager on trial, the 29-year-old never gives less than his all when he crosses the white line. Compared with many, much-less talented Premier League contemporaries, his insatiable hunger to succeed puts them to shame.
Whenever City played well last season, Tevez was almost always the catalyst. Shelving his mutual dislike of then manager Roberto Mancini for the team, he didn’t create an ounce of trouble. Instead, when his manager needed a lift from someone it was he who invariably provided it.
When a game goes flat, every side needs a player to spark something, to lift the gloom, and the Argentine was always prepared to give it a try.
Tigerish without the ball, unpredictable with his movement, strong, quick and with a drive to make and score goals, Carlos Tevez possesses almost every attribute which defenders despise. He is a nightmare to come up against.
Manuel Pellegrini will no doubt spend Tevez’s wages on another high-class forward, perhaps somebody with more long-term commitment towards the club. However, he will do very well to purchase a striker that can offer as much verve and value as the man Juventus were more than happy to take a punt on.
In a wide open season, Manchester City have a golden chance to reclaim their crown, but their reluctance to get one, final season hurrah from Tevez will, I fear, come back to bite them.
OK, Carlos Tevez would have left for free next summer, but what would his contribution have been worth to the club in 2013/14? More than £10million, I’m sure of it.
Read Adrian Clarke's previous 'Professionally Speaking' columns