Pep Guardiola admits a decision is still to be made over Vincent Kompany’s Manchester City future.
Kompany, City’s inspirational and long-serving captain, is out of contract at the end of the season.
Were it down to playing ability alone there would be no issue with the 32-year-old – who is also a fine ambassador for the club off the field – but his recurring fitness problems are a concern.
Kompany, who has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons, is currently sidelined with the muscular problem that has bothered him since the latter stages of the January 3 victory over title rivals Liverpool.
City manager Guardiola said: “I think it’s an issue that we have to speak with Vincent about – the club, him and his agent.
“We don’t have any doubts about his quality, we miss him when he is not able to play. He’s important, he is our captain and on the field he gives us extra that few central defenders around the world can give us.
“He’s incredible – but the reality is in the last five years he’s played few, really few. So that is the situation we have to put on the table and the club will discuss it with his agent and make the best solution for both.”
Kompany, who joined City from Hamburg in 2008, has been one of the key players of the modern era, skippering the club to three Premier League triumphs. Consequently, the bond between him and the club is very strong.
Guardiola insists he has no intention of severing that and any parting of the ways would only occur if the player wanted it.
He said: “I would like to feel that the club knows the sentimental issue is so important. It’s not important for making decisions, but (it is) for the players who have been here a long time and helped us to build what we are right now.
“We cannot forget what they have done. I don’t like the clubs to say, ‘OK, it’s done, go’.
“But, at the same time, there is a moment when it’s over for everybody. That’s why I said it’s not my decision. In those cases, like him, like Sergio (Aguero), like David (Silva), like Mr Toure in the past, it’s a decision for them to make together with the club.”
Guardiola has no doubt there will always be a role for Kompany at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: “He has something special, to represent the club in the best way – on and off the pitch. He can speak five, six, seven languages and he communicates quite well and we need him. People who represent us are important.”
City travel to Newcastle on Tuesday. Left-back Benjamin Mendy is doubtful after suffering a reaction in his comeback game following a two-month lay-off at Burton last week.
Guardiola has no intention of rushing the Frenchman, who underwent knee surgery in November.
He said: “He was out for a long time. He has got to go step by step, not game, game, game.”