Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said he "can't guarantee" the future of midfielder Tanguy Ndombele or the club's other top talents.
Ndombele has quickly established a reputation as one of Ligue 1's brightest prospects and has been linked with several of Europe's elite outfits. Aulas recently appeared on Radio Scoop (h/t Richard Fay of the Manchester Evening News) and spoke of how difficult it was to retain stars as talented as Ndombele.
He said: "When players decide to play for Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester ... You don't decide to sell [Alexandre] Lacazette or [Corentin] Tolisso, and in the same vein, I can't guarantee that we'll be able to keep Ndombele or [Houssem] Aouar next summer."
Lacazette and Tolisso were both linked with Lyon exits for some time before leaving the club in the 2017 summer transfer window for Arsenal and Bayern Munich, respectively.
Ndombele's valuation is only increasing, and French football writer Jeremy Smith highlighted how at ease he looked after coming on for his senior France debut in a 2-2 friendly draw against Iceland on Thursday:
BBC Sport's Simon Stone reported City were interested in signing Jorginho from Napoli before the midfielder joined Chelsea instead, and it makes sense that the similar but considerably younger Ndombele has taken over as their prime target.
The Citizens got up close and personal with the youngster when Lyon grabbed a 2-1 UEFA Champions League win at the Etihad Stadium in September, which might have left its impression on manager Pep Guardiola.
Young though the engine-room technician may be, Ndombele is already carving his place out as one of Ligue 1's standout talents, with his side currently sixth in the standings, per Statman Dave:
Aulas is regarded as a tough negotiator, but his comments suggest the player is available for the right fee. Whether or not City are willing to meet it is another matter.
Guardiola need only look at Liverpool's collapsed move for Ndombele's team-mate Nabil Fekir as an example of how difficult it can be to prise away Lyon's best players.
But Ndombele could be worth the money, and Football Whispers recently compared him and another deep-lying midfielder who made similarly quick strides through the club and international circuit:
Fernandinho will be 34 by the end of this season and David Silva turns 33 in January, and City will be wary that both will need replacing in the near future.
The squad already has other capable midfielders in Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan, both 27, and Phil Foden, 18, but Guardiola's previous interest in Jorginho suggests he still wants to add to his midfield options.