Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has warned striker Sergio Agüero that he must prove he deserves to remain at the club after his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Argentine, who has just made his return from four months out with a knee injury, managed just over an hour in Saturday's 1-0 win over Arsenal, but his failure to score means he is on a run of seven league games without a goal.
Guardiola insisted he has no doubts that Agüero will be able to get back to his devastating best once he is back up to speed, but he warned the 32-year-old that he won't simply be kept around because of his status as the club's all-time leading scorer.
"Sergio now has to show, like every one of us, that he deserves to continue here - keep playing well, scoring goals and winning games - and after that the club and I will decide," Guardiola said (via Sky Sports News).
"But if he is playing in his level we don't have any doubts that he is a player to stay until he decides because he is unique. He is important for us, our fans and everyone. But he was out four months and he has to start training regularly and start to score goals - this is the most important thing.
"Having Agüero on the pitch, we are better, we are safer. We missed him a lot in the important moments at the end part of last season, but now is good news for us that he is back."
Agüero's contract expires at the end of the season, and there have not yet been any signs of a renewal, although both parties are believed to be completely relaxed about the situation.
It has previously been suggested that City will give Agüero the freedom to decide on his future as a reward for his years of record-breaking service to the club. If he decides to walk away, City will not stand in his way.
With Gabriel Jesus out injured as well, Guardiola has been forced to get creative in attack. Both Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling have been deployed centrally this season, while 17-year-old Liam Delap has also been called up from the Under-23s.
Having Agüero back has come as a huge boost to City, who are looking to bounce back after an indifferent start to the Premier League season. Two wins, a draw and a loss have left City down in tenth in the table, so Guardiola will be keen for Agüero to start firing again soon.