World Cup means Man City must wait for crunch contract talks with players
Manchester City like to do their business early in the transfer window, and they have acted quickly this year. Julian Alvarez heads to the Etihad in July aiming to earn his spot in Pep Guardiola’s squad, and an agreement has already been reached to bring in Erling Haaland from Dortmund.
Pep Guardiola’s attacking options have already been bolstered, but there are also key questions to be asked of three forwards in the existing squad. Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling all have just 12 months remaining on their current deals and decisions will be needed on all three this summer.
City have a policy that means any contract decisions are largely put on hold in the final months of the season, with the thinking being that players (and the manager) need to be absolutely focused on the immediate task in hand of winning the trophies that they are in contention for. That’s why Guardiola has batted off all questions about his future, and why the Blues have imminent decisions needed on three key attackers.
As far as the trio are concerned, they will help decide their own future. Haaland incoming and likely Alvarez too means that at least one will have to go if they want more game time. Yet each player is in their own situation and will decide for themselves which challenge they want.
City must also abide by the timeframes of the players, and as far as Sterling and Jesus are concerned that means waiting for them to return from both their holidays and from international duty. Sterling will surely be prominent in Gareth Southgate’s plans for Qatar in December but Jesus still has plenty to prove to earn a spot in the Brazil squad.
Both players have enjoyed some time with family since the season ended and can reflect on their role in the squad last season and what comes next, then the international fixtures over the first two weeks of June will clarify what they need to do to guarantee they will be at the World Cup in December.
It is that thinking that Sterling and Jesus will go into their contract talks with next month, when City will have to work out the best way of all sides moving forward for next season. A World Cup always looms large in the thoughts of players, but the fact that it is winter rather than summer makes it even more important.
Whatever happens, the best option for all is for a speedy decision either way to give everyone as much time as possible to sort their futures. But where City have been able to act ahead of time to bring in new signings, they have to play by the timelines of current squad members – and that means factoring in the World Cup.