Manchester City ready to open contract talks with Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling as club’s main men set to get pay rises despite doubt over Champions League future

Manchester City are ready to open contract negotiations with star players Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

Sportsmail understands City chiefs want to begin talks following the Champions League second leg with Real Madrid on March 17. 

They earmarked the stability of their two top earners as crucial to the club’s immediate future amid an ongoing legal battle surrounding future participation in Europe.

Manchester City ready to open contract talks with stars Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling

Manchester City are set to begin contract talks with star midfield player Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne and Sterling still have three years left to run on their current deals. Discussions this far in advance indicate City’s determination to keep their best players.

Sterling’s contract, revealed by Sportsmail in 2018, is worth up to £300,000 a week with bonuses, while De Bruyne earns a guaranteed £280,000 a week.

It is expected that both will be offered an increase in salary to reward their commitment to City at a time when their immediate Champions League future is in doubt.

City have been proactive with renewals in recent years. The only players under 30 with fewer than three years left remaining are John Stones and Leroy Sane, with question marks over the pair’s futures.

Manchester City ready to open contract talks with stars Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling

City are also set to sit down with Raheem Sterling’s representatives later this month

Ilkay Gundogan, Benjamin Mendy, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus have contracts until 2023, with a host of others bound to longer agreements.

De Bruyne’s national manager, Roberto Martinez, insisted that the Belgium international remains ‘committed to the project at City’ following the two-year Champions League ban.

Sterling’s representative, Aidy Ward, quickly publicised that the forward ‘will not become distracted by any talk of transfers,’ amid interest from the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

City are likely to be without De Bruyne when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday with a shoulder injury. Pep Guardiola is encouraged that the 29-year-old is ‘feeling better’ but is not thought to be ready to risk him, given the importance of the tie with Real in a fortnight.

Manchester City ready to open contract talks with stars Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling

De Bruyne however will miss the Manchester derby on Sunday with a shoulder injury

Sane is also missing as he continues rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and looks set for more game time with City’s Under 23 team in a bid to regain match sharpness.

Guardiola yesterday played down Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s complaints over City enjoying an extra day’s rest ahead of tomorrow’s derby. United won at Derby County on Thursday night, 24 hours after City progressed in the FA Cup at Sheffield Wednesday.

‘I think I said before the Carabao Cup (semi-final) that they had an extra day,’ Guardiola said. ‘Sometimes it happens. Sometimes you have longer and sometimes you have less. It is what it is.’

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