When Real Madrid go after their man - they invariably get him.
And that very notion could now scupper the long-term managerial plan of Manchester City, one that current boss Pep Guardiola has himself endorsed. The Spaniard's current deal expires at the end of the 2024/25 campaign, which will signify a ninth season in charge for the man who has overseen an unprecedented era of glory at the club.
But doubts remain as to whether he'll remain at the Etihad beyond that point. And sure enough, he's already touted his own successor, telling reporters: 'That's the next Man City manager," and pointing towards Roberto De Zerbi after the champions drew 1-1 at Brighton last May.
Indeed, De Zerbi's reputation is escalating, having overseen the Seagulls qualify for Europe last season. And despite losing players pivotal to that success, such as Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, his side have impressed again this campaign, currently occupying eighth and still in touch with the clubs above them.
However, all of a sudden, a move to Man City doesn't seem so inevitable. Spanish publication Sport ES is reporting that Real have already been in talks with De Zerbi, with Florentino Perez impressed by the Italian's success with bringing through young players.
The 14-time Champions League winners are expected to appoint a new boss this summer, with Carlo Ancelotti having seemingly reached an agreement to take over as the Brazilian national coach when his contract expires. And Perez has reportedly already decided that he will not seek to quash that move by offering De Zerbi's compatriot a new deal.
And with the likes of Jude Bellingham, 20, Rodrygo, 22, and Vinicius Jr, 23, now forming the nucleus of the side at the Bernabeu it is easy to seeRead on m.allfootballapp.com