Manchester City have reportedly told veteran full-backs Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy they will not engage in contract talks before the players prove themselves in manager Pep Guardiola's new system, opening the exit door for all three players.
That's according to Daniel Cutts of the Sun, who reported all three are in the last year of their current contracts and that none of them are guaranteed a spot in the squad for next season.
Cutts shared comments from a source at the Etihad Stadium, who pointed at the presence of several promising youth prospects who could replace the three if needed:
There are no talks in pipeline to discuss possible contract extensions for Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy.
All three are out of contract next summer but all given a reprieve by Pep Guardiola to prove themselves this season.
They are all over the age of 30 and with youngsters Pablo Maffeo and Angelino also knocking on the first-team door, City are biding their time.
All three have been valuable, long-term contributors for the Citizens, with Zabaleta and Clichy both having made more than 100 appearances for the club and Sagna impressing since joining from Arsenal in 2014.
Guardiola has already shown he cares little for longevity or status, however. Star goalkeeper Joe Hart, a key contributor to the club's two recent Premier League titles and four-time Golden Glove winner, has been loaned out to Torino, and Yaya Toure didn't even make the club's UEFA Champions League list.
His approach won't make a lot of friends among the veterans, and as shared by Onefootball, Toure's agent is anything but happy:
The Spanish caretaker changed things up drastically during his time with Bayern Munich, often using David Alaba as a central option in a three-man defence and pushing Philipp Lahm into central midfield.
In Manchester, he has used his full-backs mostly as traditional full-backs, but Guardiola tends to change formations on the fly, and he's likely to do so in England as well. Per Gregor MacGregor of FourFourTwo, he used nine different formations in a year in Munich.
Versatility is key under Guardiola, and younger players tend to be better at coping with change; veterans have often gotten used to a certain role they've played for years and usually need more time converting than youngsters with limited experience do.
The Citizens have high expectations for Pablo Maffeo and Angelino, and after investing heavily in young talent that can contribute in front of goal during the summer transfer window, it would make sense for City to prioritise other positions in January or next summer.
Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne are all expected to play big roles for the club for years to come, and it's the same for the likes of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. The one position where clear upgrades can be made is at full-back.
O Jogo (h/t Rob Dawson, Rob Pollard and Ciaran Kelly of the Manchester Evening News) have already linked the club with Benfica starlet and former Barcelona youngster Alex Grimaldo, and fans can expect to read many similar stories in the coming months.