Roberto Mancini admits Carlos Tevez's Manchester City future remains shrouded in uncertainty as the dust settles on Saturday's FA Cup triumph.
City manager Mancini has reiterated he would not block Tevez's departure if the captain no longer wants to remain at Eastlands.
However, Mancini denies telling the 27-year-old Argentinian striker he can leave and would like to see him continue his career with the FA Cup holders.
"I never said that Carlos wanted to go to Italy. He has a fabulous contract with us. He's our captain and is an important player for us," said the Italian.
"I don't know if he was saying goodbye after the game on Saturday, you'd have to ask him.
"It's important to work with a team if you believe in the project. If I'm not happy, I leave. This is true for everyone in every job.
"For me, he stays here. He wants to stay. I've spoken with him and he said to me 'why you say I want to leave?'
"I told him I never said that. Never! I believe he wants to stay."
City, who have qualified for next season's Champions League, dispatched Stoke 1-0 at Wembley to lift their first trophy in 35 years.
Mancini hopes the silverware will instil his players with the confidence to challenge for the Premier League title, though he accepts it will be difficult.
"I do this job because I like football. I like to work on the pitch and only in this way can you beat important teams," he said.
"If you don't believe in yourself and your job, it's difficult. This victory will help me and the players improve.
"It's difficult to win a championship in the first year, unless you are Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Barcelona.
"If you take another team you need time to do it. After winning this cup next year maybe we can play for the top with United.
"I believe in this project because we have the chance to buy big players like United, Chelsea and Arsenal in the past.
"I don't know if we can win the title next year because it will be hard, but it is possible to arrive at this target.
"For me we have a good team because we have a young team. I believe this team can stay together for a long time."
Mancini, who arrived at Eastlands in December 2009, believes City will benefit from having a season together.
He also believes Tottenham's difficulty in competing in the Champions League and Premier League underlines the need to have a large squad.
"This season we lost many points between February and March when we played every three days," he said.
"The Premier League is tough because not only is there United, Chelsea, Arsenal, there is Liverpool and Tottenham.
"Now we have the summer to buy other players. That will put us in a position we didn't have last year because all the players came from the World Cup and that was difficult.
"The players will also have played together for another year. I don't think there will be a lot of changes.
"We should follow the example of Tottenham. They reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League but will be fifth or sixth in the Premier League.
"It's difficult to play Champions League if you don't have a big squad and you can change six or seven players every game."