City 'planning talks' to extend Guardiola deal
Manchester City is planning talks with manager Pep Guardiola at the end of the season as the English Premier League leader seeks to tie him to a long-term deal, reports said on Monday.
City is 11 points clear of nearest challenger Manchester United, is on a record run of 16 consecutive wins in England's top flight and through to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase after comfortably winning its group.
Guardiola, 46, is half-way through his three-year deal at City but the club hierarchy are reportedly confident the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss can be persuaded to stay longer.
Guardiola said last month that he was happy at City and his contract, which expires in 2019, was "not a big issue".
City failed to mount a serious title challenge in Guardiola's much-hyped first season in England, finishing a disappointing third. It also exited the UCL in the first knockout round.
But the club invested heavily in new players during the summer and looks certain to romp away with the EPL title even though the season still has five months to run.
The Times newspaper said there was an acceptance that when Guardiola arrived in Manchester last year he might not stay beyond his three-year deal but there is optimism he will make a longer-term commitment.
The report said Guardiola was enjoying working with chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain, both of whom previously worked at Barcelona.
Guardiola quit Barcelona in 2012 despite four trophy-laden seasons to recharge his batteries.
Following a sabbatical with his family in New York, he returned to management in Germany, leading Bayern to three consecutive Bundesliga titles before moving to City in 2016.
Meanwhile, British police are investigating an alleged racially aggravated assault on City forward Raheem Sterling before the EPL leader's victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
"On Sunday 17 December 2017, police were made aware that a 23-year-old man had been subject to a racially aggravated assault," a police spokesman said.
The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that Sterling was apparently kicked and racially abused as he arrived at City's Etihad Campus on Saturday morning before its 4-1 win over Tottenham, during which the attacker scored twice.
The report said a man appeared to be waiting for the 23-year-old England international as he arrived at the training ground to prepare for the game.
The newspaper said it is understood that Sterling got out of his car to ask what the problem was but was then kicked in the leg.
City has not commented on the matter and a formal complaint has not yet been lodged but police confirmed they are treating it as "a hate crime".
"While an official report has not yet been made, enquiries will be carried out and officers are treating it as a hate crime."
Sterling has been one of the stars of City's record-breaking season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions.