Pep Guardiola admits he could be prepared to let captain Vincent Kompany leave Manchester City at the end of the season.
The 32-year-old’s contract expires in the summer and has yet to reach an agreement over a new deal with the Premier League champions.
Kompany has spent more than a decade at Etihad Stadium and has become a symbol of the club’s newfound success under owner Sheikh Mansour.
The Belgian has won three Premier League titles, three EFL Cups, one FA Cup and two Community Shields during his time at the club.
However, injuries have begun to take their toll in recent years, significantly restricting his playing time.
Kompany has made just nine Premier League appearances so far this season and hasn’t featured since City’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool on January 3 due to a muscle injury.
Guardiola, who revealed earlier this month that talks had begun over a new deal, concedes that Kompany’s struggles with injury will be taken into account in discussions.
“I think it’s an issue we have to speak to with Vincent,” Guardiola told the club’s website. “We don’t have any doubts about his quality.
“We miss him when he isn’t able to play, he is our captain and, on the field, he gives us something extra that few centre-backs around the world can give us.
“He’s incredible, but the reality is in the last five years he has played very few games.
“That is the situation we will put on the table with the club. We will discuss it with his agent and work out what is the best solution for both.”
Despite Kompany’s fading influence on the field, Guardiola is in no doubt about his influence off it.
The Manchester City boss has hinted that the former Anderlecht and Hamburg player could be offered a non-playing role at the club when he decides to hang up his boots.
“I would like to [keep him at the Club]. He has something special," added Guardiola.
“Personality both on and off the pitch, he speaks six or seven languages so can communicate well.
“We need people for what they have done in the past to help the new players from the next generation. He helped us build the club we have now.
“The sentimental issue is so important – he has been here a long time and he helped us build what we have right now for the new people who come after [us]. We can’t forget that.
“I don't like clubs to say OK it’s done, go, but at the same time, there is one moment when it’s over. It’s not my decision, like him, like with Sergio [Aguero], David [Silva] always to be together with the club.
“I’ve spoken to him many times about the reality of how we can help. But it’s his decision with the club and his agent. I’m not involved, I just give my opinion.”