Manchester City are planning to open contract talks with Pep Guardiola.
Boss Guardiola signed a three-year deal when he arrived at the Etihad last summer, but the belief at the club is that he now views the job as a much longer-term project after targeting a raft of the world’s best young players.
The Blues have already sealed the £43million transfer of Monaco’s 22-year-old midfield playmaker Bernardo Silva since clinching a Champions League group-phase place last weekend.
And they are now looking to wrap up deals for another trio of talented tyros in Benfica keeper Ederson, 23, and Silva’s Monaco team-mates Fabinho, 23, and Benjamin Mendy, 22.
Landing those three would take City’s summer spending spree past the £150million mark, and they are also closing in on Tottenham’s £40million-rated Kyle Walker.
And it is unlikely that the recruitment will stop there.
Last year, City lavished over £160million on John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
Guardiola also remains confident that he can land Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, despite the Gunners’ reluctance to allow the Chilean forward to move to another Premier League club.
The arrival of Silva has not altered Guardiola’s determination to link up again with a player he worked with in Spain and the feeling that the 28-year-old would prefer a move to City over joining German giants Bayern Munich.
This massive rebuild is a huge statement of intent by the club – and they reckon that Guardiola will want to be around when the team he is building hits its peak in four or five years’ time.
Chief executive Ferran Soriano – who along with sporting director Txiki Begiristain was instrumental in recruiting Guardiola – is now laying down deeper roots in Manchester by buying a luxury home just off Deansgate in the city centre.
Project Pep has been built on the premise that Guardiola, Soriano and Begiristain will all work together to make City one of the world’s most formidable clubs both on and off the pitch.
Guardiola has been stung by the criticisms levelled at him for failing to mount a sustained challenge for either the Premier League or Champions League in his first season in England. But there is an acceptance that the ageing squad he inherited wasn’t fit for purpose.
Thirty-somethings Pablo Zabalata, Gael Clichy, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna and Jesus Navas have all now left the club at the end of their contracts.
A one-year extension is still on the table for Yaya Toure though, after the Ivorian’s spectacular return to grace.
A source close to the 34-year-old midfielder told Sunday Mirror Sport that Toure is spending the weekend thinking about a deal which will see his £225,000-a-week basic wage slashed for a bonus-related agreement.
He is expected to announce his decision in the next 48 hours.
* CITY and Arsenal are chasing Dinamo Zagreb starlet David Colina, writes Tom Hopkinson.
The left-back is considered one of the most promising young players on the continent. But Zagreb do not want to lose the 16-year-old, who is also attracting interest from clubs in Italy, Spain and Germany.