Jose Mourinho has threatened Real Madrid: with staying.
It is clear that both Los Blancos and The Special One are sick of one another, with the manager’s heart set on a return to Chelsea, where he says he feels “loved.”
But neither Real nor Mourinho want to be seen to blink first in what has become an estimated €20 million standoff.
That is the figure of the penalty clause either party is supposed to pay for ending their relationship prematurely. Mourinho’s contract at Real is set to expire in 2016.
If Mourinho quits, the club that signs him will have to pay Real the hefty penalty. If Real sack him, the fee would be payable into Mourinho’s bank account.
The Special One has been at pains to insist that his exit from Real will not be about money. He says that if he leaves, he will only claim what he has worked for and “not a euro more.”
But he has intimated that if Real do not play ball by negotiating his early release without a penalty, he will stay to see out his contract.
Real want to employ Carlo Ancelotti according to Spanish football insiders, and they certainly don’t want to give Mourinho a multi-million euro golden handshake for failing to win La Decima.
And so it does seem likely that the current stalemate will be alleviated in a Bernabeu boardroom negotiation, between Mou and club president Florentino Perez, who The Special One has strategically been referring to as his “friend” for the past few months.
But it is clear that Mou feels he holds the trump card, as he continues to prepare the ground for his exit from Madrid.
Asked if he had considered resigning, he said: "I have considered continuing."
He then bristled at the suggestion that he is trying to engineer his own dismissal, by trash talking his players and burning his bridges to the Bernabeu.
“People believe what you lot write. I will work until my last day. And I will be paid up to the last day I work, not a euro more," he fumed.
Meanwhile, Mourinho has dismissed Real defender Pepe’s criticism of the manager’s treatment of club legend, Iker Casillas.
Pepe has long been thought of as one of Mou’s closest allies in Madrid, but at the weekend he said the coach should be more respectful to Casillas.
However, Mourinho says that Pepe has his own agenda, fuelled by professional jealousy and his own bruised ego.
"Pepe's problem is easy to analyse: it's called Varane,” Mourinho said.
“It's hard to be a 31-year-old and be steamrollered by a 19-year-old kid but that's the law of life."