David Silva is set to extend his contract to stay at Manchester City for the rest of an extended season – which Pep Guardiola hopes will culminate in Champions League glory and a rush to be ready for the 2020/21 campaign.
The City captain’s current contract expires on June 30 and he would be ineligible for the run-in if he did not sign a new deal.
Manager Guardiola regrets that Silva will be denied the send-off he deserves for 10 years of outstanding service but said City are already planning to welcome him back so their fans can pay tribute.
He said: “He will stay until the end of the season. It is unfortunate he is going to finish his last games here without people. The situation is what it is.
"No one wants it. But he is coming back and hopefully he can have the big farewell.
"Always the clubs become big when they make the big gestures to these players for what they have done for more than one decade.
"It was Vincent Kompany, it was Joe Hart, Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta. They make the club what it is. The club will make an agreement with David and do what they have to do.”
Silva’s final act in a City shirt could be to lift the Champions League trophy, potentially in Lisbon deep into August, but September 12 has been mooted as a date for next season to start.
“We would love to not have a break before next season for the Premier League,” added Guardiola. “It would be incredible news for us. It means we go through.”
City return to action against Arsenal on Wednesday with Leroy Sane available to make his first appearance since August and Aymeric Laporte back after an injury-hit season, but with Guardiola promising to be cautious with both.
“You have to be careful especially for the recovered situations for players that had long injuries,” he added.
City have only had three weeks to prepare and Guardiola said: “They had six weeks in Germany, five in Spain, almost double what we had. But all the people with their own businesses and shops have to adapt. You have to [return] to reduce the economic damage as much as possible.”
It will be City’s first game behind closed doors and Guardiola urged his players to draw on childhood memories to excel without a crowd.
He explained: “When they were little kids they play in the school or the square without spectators and they play good in that situation. That is what they have to do.”
Guardiola has a new assistant manager as he faces his former second in command. He played for Juanma Lillo at Dorados Sinaloa 15 years ago and they have now been reunited. The City manager explained: “He is the right person to help us, understand the game better and the mythology of training sessions.”
Mikel Arteta left to manage Arsenal in December and he and Guardiola remain sufficiently close that they spoke at lunchtime on Tuesday and are planning for a socially distanced get together at full-time.
Arteta tested positive for coronavirus in March and Guardiola added: “When he announced he had the Covid-19 we were all worried but hopefully now he is immune.”
Guardiola lost his mother, Dolors, to the virus and he paid his tribute to the healthcare workers around the world.
“Football is an important part of society but please don’t forget what is [most] important,” he said.
“They deserve more than just one applause a week. The people in the NHS went to work every single day, risking being contaminated by Covid-19. The real heroes in society must be these people.”