Pep Guardiola has reiterated his desire to keep Sergio Aguero at Manchester City and insists the striker knows how much he is wanted.
Speculation over Aguero's future, despite the prolific Argentinian's continued excellence in front of goal, has recurred throughout Guardiola's first season in charge at the Etihad Stadium.
Questions have again been asked in the past fortnight, with the 28-year-old having to make do with a place on the bench while new signing Gabriel Jesus has taken the plaudits.
Aguero even added fuel to the conjecture himself last week as - while stressing his wish to stay - he said "the club will decide if I have a place here or not" in the summer.
When asked why Aguero might feel unsure of his future, Guardiola said: "I don't think he feels that way.
"Sergio knows the intention of his manager and the club. I don't want to sell him, I want him to stay here for a long time until he decides.
"The reason he's not played the last two games is because Leroy (Sane), Gabriel and Rash (Raheem Sterling) have played amazing. That's the only reason why.
"He remains a top player and an important one for us to achieve our goals. I don't have doubts about that."
Aguero, who is contracted to 2020, has scored 154 for City since joining the club in 2011.
Guardiola has repeatedly said Aguero has earned the right to leave the club at a time of his own choosing.
Asked if he feared the striker might make such a decision in the summer, Guardiola said: "At the end of the season I don't know. I know how difficult it is to find top goalscorers.
"I would like him to remain but I don't know what is going to happen. Even in my career I didn't know what would happen at the end of the season."
City have produced some exhilarating football in recent weeks and Guardiola insists Aguero's recent omissions from the starting line-up are simply down to the superior form of other players.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the Spaniard said: "I was clear every time we spoke with Sergio from the beginning.
"I know his strengths, I know he's trying, I know how much he fought against Tottenham and how many chances he had.
"But at Palace I saw three guys in front with a high intensity and said, 'Wow, I like what they do'. In the last game it gave them continuity."