Rome: AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri displayed a greater desire to retain the services of Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato rather than acquire Carlos Tevez when he spoke to the press on Saturday.
Milan have agreed terms with Tevez but are still haggling with Manchester City over a deal for the Argentine forward.
Many in the Italian press believe Milan will sell Pato -- possibly to Paris St Germain where he could link up with former coaches Carlo Ancelotti and Leonardo -- to make way for Tevez.
Those rumours gained momentum when the young Brazilian complained during the winter break that his coach needs to give him more direction.
That was in response to criticisms from Allegri but the coach claims he wants Pato to stay, more so seemingly than he wants Tevez to join.
"There has never been a problem between me and Pato and if there was then it's been resolved," he said.
"I think he'll stay at Milan, I want him to stay at Milan."
However he appeared to contradict himself when he added: "I think he could be an important signing in January given that he only played a little during the first half of the season."
But Allegri didn't seem totally convinced by the plan to buy Tevez, a deal chief executive Adriano Galliani is working hard to push through.
"I spoke to Galliani yesterday but we spoke about the team not transfers," said Allegri.
"I don't know if Tevez will join but if he does join I'll have the problem that he's not played for two months.
"Right now we need to concentrate on the continuation of the championship which will be difficult against a dangerous team such as Atalanta."
Although down in the bottom half, Atalanta have only been beaten twice this season -- the same as Milan -- and but for a six-point penalty for match-fixing would be fifth.
Allegri will be without a raft of midfielders for the tricky trip as Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Aquilani and long-term injury victim Mathieu Flamini are all unavailable.
Veteran Alessandro Nesta is ready to return to the team but Allegri said French centre-back Philippe Mexes will partner Thiago Silva.