MANCHESTER – Pep Guardiola has urged Raheem Sterling to end his prolonged contract talks with Manchester City and sign an extended deal with the Premier League champions.
The England forward is expected to be back in action for City against Fulham this weekend after missing the Three Lions' clashes with Spain and Switzerland over the past week with a slight back injury.
But it is Sterling's long-term status Guardiola wants resolved.
Sterling and City's hierarchy spent much of last season in contract negotiations before the player, whose current deal expires in 2020, put them on hold, preferring to concentrate on England's World Cup campaign.
The 23-year-old was also hoping that a strong personal showing in Russia might strengthen his bargaining position.
But having failed to find the net as England reached the last four, talks have re-opened.
“It's well-known we're delighted with him and would like to continue,” said Guardiola. “The club asked me my opinion and we shared our opinions and, after that, it is the club and the agent. I'm not involved.
“Sometimes this kind of thing needs its own time. But it's important that Raheem and his people know how delighted we are with him.”
Reports have suggested that the former Liverpool forward, currently on a reported £175,000 ($229,000) a week, is seeking a pay rise of £100,000 a week.
That would still leave Sterling considerably short of the club's highest-paid player, Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne’s contract can reach £400,000 a week, according to reports, when signing-on fees and bonuses are factored into the lucrative new deal he signed midway through last season.
The Belgian is currently sidelined by a knee injury that was expected to keep him sidelined for three months when first diagnosed in August.
And Guardiola remains hopeful of having De Bruyne back before the end of the year.
“He is progressing well,” said Guardiola. “He is obviously not fit for tomorrow but two-and-a-half to three months is right. He's going well in this perspective.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, believes Premier League games could be taken abroad in the future if La Liga's plans to play games in the United States are successful.
The January clash between Girona and Barcelona is set to be played in Miami with both clubs endorsing the plan this week and compensation offered to Girona fans who would miss out on a home game.
Outgoing Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore's plans for a 39th Premier League game of the season played in various foreign cities a decade ago were shelved due to a backlash from fans.
But Guardiola thinks money will talk if the proposals boost La Liga's revenue and exposure in the USA.
“This is the first time it has happened,” he said. “If it works, it's business.
“It's a sport but it is business too. If it works, we will see in future more teams (going abroad), not just in Spain, in other countries.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)