Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola deflected questions on Friday about the future of winger Leroy Sane, who has just two years to run on his current contract and has been linked with a summer move to Bayern Munich.
The 23-year-old has scored 39 goals in 131 games for City and has played a crucial part in the club’s back-to-back Premier League titles.
Guardiola said he understood why some players would want to leave City, as he couldn’t offer a guaranteed spot to any player.
“They have to fight each other, play the best as possible to convince me to put them in the line-up,” said Guardiola.
“We are one year, one and a half years, eight months, then trying to extend his contract. We’re working.
“Why we want to extend the contract is because we want him, we are not going to extend the contract because we don’t want him.”
The Premier League champions can complete an unprecedented domestic treble when they face Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
But regardless of whether City can crown an outstanding season with victory at Wembley or not, the ever-demanding Guardiola says reputations will count for little next term.
The City boss said: “Every player has to feel, ‘I have to play good or I don’t play’. They have to feel, ‘I have to win again, if not I have problems, I’m in trouble, I cannot be longer here’.
“People say how beautiful it is but we have to win again and again and again and the players have to feel that.
“It was incredible but for the first day from next season we start from zero.”
Guardiola expects some changes to be made to the squad this summer. Signings will be made to freshen up the group and he accepts some players may wish to move on.
He said: “Some movements we have to do for the next season, yes, because people want to leave, players want to play.
“They accept not playing for a period but when the period is long it’s normal that they want to play more. I can’t assure that to anyone so I understand completely.”
Winger Leroy Sane was linked with Bayern Munich this week while Ilkay Gundogan now has just one year remaining on his contract. Guardiola remains hopeful both will agree new deals.
He said: “Leroy, we are one and a half years trying to sign his (new) contract. We want him. It’s like Gundogan – it’s the same case.”
Captain Vincent Kompany is out of contract this summer. Guardiola hopes to retain the services of the four-time Premier League winner but the 33-year-old’s future after the FA Cup final remains unclear.
He said: “We are going to speak after this game. Vinny has shown again when he is fit what he is able to do.”
City were in contention for a quadruple until being beaten in dramatic fashion by Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals last month.
Guardiola, however, doubts whether his team would have been able to hold off Liverpool in the Premier League if the result against Spurs had gone the other way.
He said: “Always I thought after going out to Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals, if we’d gone through would we have been able to beat Tottenham (again), go to Old Trafford, Burnley and win the points we needed to be champions against this Liverpool?
“Honestly, I don’t know if we would have been able.”
Guardiola won the Champions League twice with Barcelona and will fight again to win the prize with City next term.
He said: “Of course it’s our dream to do it but I have to improve, I have to see what I can do better to do it. As a manager I’m not good enough in this club to maintain it.
“We will work on I don’t know what because we tried to do our best, but the Champions League is difficult. It was not the same level as we’ve achieved in the other competitions.”
Guardiola remains keen to point out that City can still win a quadruple this season, as they won the Community Shield last August.
He said: “We can win it tomorrow – the ‘little’ quadruple. It’s a big chance for us.”
City won their last 14 games to beat the Reds by a single point in a compelling and high-quality title race.
Liverpool’s 97-point tally was the third-highest ever achieved in the competition but, while City’s Belgian playmaker acknowledges their effort, he cannot feel sorry for them.
De Bruyne said: “It’s a remarkable effort, but it means that we were just better than them in the end.
“I don’t feel sorry for them because I don’t think they’d feel sorry for us. I don’t think anybody felt sorry about the way we went out of the Champions League. You take it.
“I know how they feel because you’re going to feel disappointed. We’d feel the same if it happened to us.
“But we’re still competitors. It’s been a great battle. I can understand the feelings they have but to feel sorry for them is maybe going a little too far.”
For all City’s success this season, it has been a frustrating campaign for De Bruyne – their player of the season last year – due to a succession of injuries.
The 27-year-old featured just 18 times in the Premier League largely due to two separate knee injuries and a number of other problems.
He returned from his latest setback to feature off the bench as City won the title at Brighton last weekend. He now wants to end on a glorious high by helping them complete the treble in the FA Cup final against Watford on Saturday.
De Bruyne said: “It makes up for it in a way but obviously it’s not been the most fun season.
“It’s been one of those years where I started really badly with two big injuries. I came back in the right way but obviously, my body couldn’t cope with all the games.
“It’s good to be back with the team for the prizes, the Brighton game and now the final.”
De Bruyne did allow his frustration to show at one point this season when, during a comeback game against Burton in the Carabao Cup in January, he headed straight down the tunnel after being substituted.
City were leading 5-0 – and went on to win 9-0 – and manager Pep Guardiola wanted to protect the star but De Bruyne, who was making just his sixth start of the season, disagreed.
He admits he was told off for his reaction.
He said: “I shouldn’t really have left but sometimes emotions come up and at the time I thought it was a good game for me. It was already 5-0 so at that moment I was like, ‘I need the game time, I can still be important’.”
After celebrating their title success last weekend, City returned to training on Tuesday to prepare for Watford.
De Bruyne said: “The group is serious. You feel there’s now a little less tension than there has been in the last few weeks, obviously the main thing was the title, but everyone will be ready.”
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling has attributed his fine form this season to a determination to repay Guardiola’s faith in him.
Sterling said: “He’s phenomenal, not only with me but with every player in the team. He gives everyone opportunities, he gives people chances and it’s down to you to repay that faith.
“The manager gives his all, he comes in every day and wants the best, not only from himself but from everyone else – the coaches, the staff, the chefs.
“He demands the best and everyone tries to give their best and that’s the best environment you can be in, to have a team full of winners.”