Can Man City persuade Pep Guardiola to extend his contract, or will the coach leave?

No one at Manchester City is concerned about Pep Guardiola's future as manager of the Premier League champions, but there is an understanding that the questions will resurface sooner or later.

Guardiola, 51, is out of contract in the summer and could leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season if new terms are not reached. City have made no secret of their desire to keep Guardiola, who has won four Premier League titles and five other major trophies since joining the club in 2016, but when asked in August whether this could be his final season, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager was characteristically vague.

"I wouldn't change a thing about my life here," he said. "It's already been seven seasons. We talked to the club. We'll talk about how we feel in the middle and end of the season and decide what's best for the club."

"I've said many times that if they want it, I'd like to stay longer, but I need to be certain."

Ideally, City would like to be able to announce an extension to Guardiola's contract during the World Cup break.

To accommodate the tournament in Qatar, Premier League fixtures have been suspended between Nov. 13 and Dec. 26, giving plenty of time to finalize negotiations and sign on the dotted line. Confirmation before the Boxing Day restart would put the issue to rest well before Guardiola enters the final six months of his contract, freeing everyone at the Etihad to concentrate on the title race and the business end of the Champions League.

However, if the situation continues into the second half of the season, it will become a problem for City. If players began to return from the World Cup with Guardiola's future uncertain, it would raise unavoidable questions about what happens next – for both Guardiola and the club.

The city would require time to find a new manager. They admire Julian Nagelsmann's work with Bayern Munich, former New York City manager Patrick Vieira has done well at Crystal Palace, and ex-City captain Vincent Kompany has done well at Burnley – but appointing a new manager, whoever it is, is not an easy task.

In the summer, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak admitted that Guardiola's position would always be a talking point, especially as his contract came to an end.

"Pep has never stayed as long as he has here with any club, whether it's Barcelona or Bayern Munich," Al Mubarak said during his customary end-of-season address to supporters. "The question is perfectly legitimate. It was absolutely correct last year, three years ago, and, of course, this year. It is a successful collaboration over the years."

Al Mubarak has previously visited here. Guardiola will enter the final year of his previous contract at the start of the 2020-21 season. There was speculation at the time that he was looking for a break, having already spent more time in Manchester than he had in Barcelona or Munich.

In the end, he stayed, with a new two-year contract announced in November 2020. Guardiola cited his relationship with the club as a key factor in his decision to stay, and it will undoubtedly be a factor again this time around.

He said two years ago, "Having that kind of support is the best thing any manager can have." "I have everything I need to do my job well, and I am humbled by the owner's, chairman's, Ferran [Soriano] and Txiki [Begiristain's] confidence in me to continue for two more years after this season."

Guardiola understands that he may never have it as good as he does at City, thanks in part to his friendship with Soriano and Begiristain formed during their time together at Barcelona. But he's also well aware that he's only as good as his players, and that his success as a manager depends on the squad's continued belief in what he's trying to accomplish.

"It's not the second or third season; it's been a long time, and I need to see how the players behave," Guardiola said in August. "I don't want to be a nuisance. When you extend things and force them, it's not always a good thing, so you have to work through it and relax."

"This type of situation occurs when something happens naturally. It's not going well if you force it. We'll see what happens during the season and how we feel, and then make the best decision for the club."

Bernardo Silva admitted over the summer that working under Guardiola can be "exhausting," but if City's start to the season is any indication, his methods are still effective.

Furthermore, Begiristain has managed to refresh the squad to the point where only four players are over 30: Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan, and Riyad Mahrez. The average age of the team selected for the 3-0 win at Wolves before the international break was just 26, and with players like Erling Haaland and Phil Foden still in their prime, the cycle of success is likely to continue.

Guardiola does not want to be a manager indefinitely, but his ambitions extend beyond the Etihad. He's likely to take a break after City to travel, spend time with his family, and improve his golf, but he hasn't ruled out leading a national team in a major tournament. Khaldoon, Begiristain, and Soriano, on the other hand, hope he retains the motivation to stay for at least another couple of years.

Guardiola's time on the bench will come to an end eventually, as he has no desire to work into his 60s and 70s like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. City, on the other hand, are hoping they've ensured that, for the time being, there's nowhere he'd rather be.