Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wants to keep Sergio Aguero but the Argentina striker and club captain Vincent Kompany face futures where they must adjust to no longer being the main men at the Etihad Stadium.
Kompany and Aguero will forever be symbols of the first flushes of City success under Sheikh Mansour's ownership, with the centre-back lifting every major honour in English football – most memorably the club's first top-flight title for 44 years on the back of Aguero's thrilling final-day winner against QPR in 2012.
Muscular injuries have hindered both men frequently thereafter, with Kompany suffering a particularly debilitating run over the past two years, although their positions as guaranteed starters if fit have rarely been up for debate.
However, ahead of Monday's Premier League match at Bournemouth, Guardiola told reporters that the form of others and tactical considerations have kept the star duo on the bench this month.
Speculation is swirling over Aguero's future, with teenage sensation Gabriel Jesus' seamless adaptation to Premier League life consigning the 28-year-old to a substitute's role for the wins against West Ham and Swansea City.
Guardiola was taken by Jesus' display alongside Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane in a livewire forward line that dispatched Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last month and the onus is on his top scorer to dislodge one of the youngsters.
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"Sergio knows the intention of his manager and the club," the former Barcelona boss said. "I don’t want to sell him. I would like him to stay here for a long time, until he decides.
"The reason he didn't play the last two games is because Leroy, Gabriel and Rash, they played amazing.
"If I can change the model and play all four… but I am a guy who likes to play with midfield players to have more control.
"What I feel now is that if Leroy doesn't play [Aguero] will be in; if Gabriel doesn't play, he will be in and if Rash doesn't play, he will be in.
"He remains a top player, an important player for us to achieve our goals. I have no doubt about that."
There was similar praise for Kompany, who Guardiola pledged to use "in some special games".
The 30-year-old Belgium skipper will make a first Premier League appearance in 2017 if he features at Bournemouth, where victory would move City up to second and within eight points of leaders Chelsea.
He reverted to being an unused substitute after making a successful return from knee ligament damage against Palace and Guardiola insists Kompany's physical condition is not a concern.
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"It's not about that," he said. "I think he is fit now and I am so happy. For three or four weeks he has trained very good.
"The reason him and Nico Otamendi didn't play against Swansea was because we knew that [Fernando] Llorente is a striker but was going to mark Yaya Toure, so our central defenders would be free.
"We needed two guys with good build-up. On the left side [Aleksandar] Kolarov is really good for the passes to the other side and the passes inside. John Stones has the quality to make the build-up two against one.
"It was not necessary to have two central defenders in the box defending a lot of crosses."
In his eighth season at City, Kompany's injury nightmare means his name is no longer mentioned in dispatches alongside Europe's elite clubs.
That is not the case for Aguero and Guardiola acknowledged the former Atletico Madrid man's current predicament means a significant degree of uncertainty.
"I would like him to remain but I don't know what is going to happen," he added, echoing sentiments expressed by Aguero in the aftermath of the Swansea game.
"Even in my career I would not know what would happen at the end of the season, so I do not know.
"My advice for all the players is, ' keep going, guys'. Keep going, fight and show me again how good you are."
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