Arsenal are becoming resigned to the fact that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will enter the final year of his contract without agreeing a new deal.
Head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu want the Gabon international to commit his long-term future to the club.
But they do not believe a deal can be made with their £56million top-scorer until they know if Gunners will be in Europe next season.
And with the current campaign set to run deep into the summer, they risk their captain having just months of his contract to run when they finally get down to serious talks.
They then face the prospect of losing Aubameyang for nothing next year because the 30-year-old is reluctant to extend his stay unless he can compete in Europe.
Both Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham insisted that Arsenal would never allow itself to be placed in such a position after Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey left as free agents.
And they are determined to avoid a repeat of the scenario of two years ago when the Gunners rushed into awarding Mesut Ozil a £350,000-a-week deal to prevent him from running his contract down.
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Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are all keeping tabs on the situation.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago