Exclusive - Manchester City are in talks with manager Pep Guardiola over a new contract to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium beyond the end of this season when his current deal expires.
City are hopeful that the 49-year-old, who has guided them to two Premier League titles and four other domestic cups in four seasons in charge, will commit his future to the club.
However, a source has informed 90min that City officials are also preparing themselves in case Guardiola wants to walk away and have started identifying potential candidates to succeed him. That list includes Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.
It has been a difficult year for Guardiola on a personal level, having lost his mother to coronavirus in April. In September, he stated his desire to remain at City, but also insisted he has to feel he deserves it and hinted he will wait to see how the 2020/21 campaign pans out before deciding.
“I would love to stay longer here,” he said then. “It is a place I love to be but I have to deserve. This club achieved standards in the last decade but we have to maintain that and I have to deserve it. I am going to see if I deserve it this season in terms of how the club goes forward and improves.”
Guardiola is in his fifth season in Manchester, which already makes it the longest spell in his managerial career to date, compared to four years at Barcelona and then three at Bayern Munich.
90min understands that it is City’s priority to keep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium. Club sources believe there is a real chance he will sign fresh terms to stay, especially following the arrival of close friend Juan Manuel Lillo as assistant coach to replace Mikel Arteta, now of course at Arsenal.
But City executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are refusing to approach the situation with any complacency and have also started weighing up possible replacements should the incumbent Guardiola ultimately opt against signing a new contract.
Rodgers is one of those names up for consideration, having impressed on his return to the Premier League from Scotland. The 47-year-old former Liverpool boss won back-to-back domestic trebles north of the border with Celtic and has now guided Leicester back to European football.
Rodgers signed a long-term contract at Leicester until 2025 less than a year ago. But should there be a call from City next summer, the opportunity may be too hard to turn down.