Manuel Lanzini’s future is hanging on a return to full fitness and a successful round of new contract talks.
The Argentinian did not return to his often scintillating best after a massive injury sustained in World Cup training.
And the arrival of Pablo Fornals may be sending signals that his place is not guaranteed this term unless he can find his very best form again.
With so much competition in the middle of the park, every player will need to be at peak if he is to clinch a place in the starting X1 but Lanzini – with just a year left on his deal – is in a different position to the others.
And the manager will be watching his form during the first half of the season as he decides whether to push the board into getting a deal done or perhaps allowing him to be transferred in January before he becomes a free agent.
Should they take the latter course it would represent the worst time to sell with the midfielder’s value, given the limited time left on his contract, likely to be in the region of around £15m-£20m.