Manchester City are ready to sit down with Bernardo Silva to discuss his future. The English champions will make it abundantly clear that they want him to stay.
The Portuguese international has been the subject of transfer chatter for the past two seasons and it came to a crescendo this summer as Barcelona made it known publicly that they fancied him at the Camp Nou.
Barca were not shy about dialing up their admiration of the 28-year-old attacking midfielder who has played more than 250 times for City since signing from Monaco in 2017.
The Blues, though, are adamant that no club - including Paris Saint-Germain who were also reportedly keen on Silva - approached them and no one called. Instead officials were left to read reports like everyone else.
Boss Pep Guardiola was consistently asked about the player’s future at his press briefings. All the while Silva, City’s player of the season in 2019 and picked in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) league team of the year, was happy in his training and, according to those sharing a dressing room with him, very calm about the situation.
Now the dust has settled, City want to sit down with the midfielder and have a mature discussion about the future.
They will offer a long term future but Guardiola has always employed the mantra that if people aren’t happy, they should leave and is as aware as anyone that football, and the business surrounding it, is capricious at best.
Silva, always someone considered honest and upfront in his dealings with the club, will be asked if he wants to stay or leave and will hear emphatically that the English champions want him to stay put and add to the nine major trophies - including four Premier League titles - that he has already amassed.
City, however, know the man who made the 30-man Ballon d’or list in 2021 has had his eye on Spain for some time. Director of Football Txiki Begiristain has two or three names on his radar should the club part company with the Portuguese.
Guardiola, meanwhile, has been gushing in his praise for a player who recently scored his 50th goal for the club in the 4-2 win over Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium.
“Bernardo is so important to us,” said the City boss. “What is so amazing about him is that when a game is going wrong he always - always - steps forward.
“Some players may make a step backwards or be worried but he makes that step forward. He loves to play in games when the situation is uncomfortable. That is why Bernardo is irreplaceable for many things for us.”
Those were heartfelt words from Guardiola but it seems it will not stop his Catalonian countrymen and former club Barcelona returning to their pursuit, maybe as soon as after the World Cup in January.