Roberto Mancini acknowledged yesterday that Carlos Tevez, his unsettled striker, could be forced to stay at Manchester City because "there isn't a team that wants to take him".
Tevez is back training with City ahead of the new Premier League season after representing Argentina at Copa America.
But the striker has made it clear he wants to leave. He has seen a move to Corinthians, his former side in Brazil, fall through and rumours persist of a switch to Inter Milan in Italy.
However, Mancini said it appears more and more likely that Tevez could be forced to remain at City as there was no interest in the player.
"I don't know if he will stay, but it is difficult for him to leave," said the Italian at a news conference ahead of City's opening game of the season against Swansea City on Monday. "Carlos is here, and there isn't a team that wants to take him. I'm happy if he stays."
Mancini also acknowledged that he has not completed the squad he needs to challenge for the Premier League title and was desperate to do so before his side kick off their campaign.
Even the alarm on his wristwatch was beeping as if to stress the point that time was running out to sign the France forward, Samir Nasri, from Arsenal before the Swansea match.
Mancini has made no secret of his desire to sign Nasri, breaking an unwritten rule last month of not naming transfer targets, and while he did not mention him by name at yesterday's news conference, the questions he faced were all about him.
"We have not completed our team, and I hope that we can do this very very quickly because we need other players," the Italian said. "I think that the club is still working on this [Nasri deal], it is not easy ... It is important we can complete our team very quickly in the next days and next week, because the first games are very important.
"I think that if we complete our squad ... I think we can fight for the title this year."
He was frustrated that an agreement had not been reached earlier, saying he preferred players to arrive before the season so that they had more time to prepare with their teammates.
"When we have a target for two or three months, it is important that this player can arrive," he said. "It was important to have this player in July, when we worked with the team, now maybe it will be difficult because we need time."
City made a major breakthrough last season by winning the FA Cup, their first trophy for 35 years, and are now widely viewed as serious contenders for a first league title since 1968.
They were, however, given a reality check last Sunday when they let slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Mancini refused to read too much into that. "I think it is important that we were in the match always, we were 2-0. It is important for us that we understand why we lost this game."