The Football Association wants Gareth Southgate to stay on as England manager beyond Euro 2020 but knows it cannot compete on salary if a Premier League club comes knocking.
Southgate’s popularity in the country soared last month as he led England to the World Cup semi-finals but the achievement also boosted his stock within the game.
Having initially come in as a caretaker manager after Sam Allardyce’s ill-starred reign, he was given a four-year contract by the FA in November 2016, a deal the governing body would dearly like to extend.
Speaking to reporters at Wembley on Wednesday, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “Gareth has been excellent – we’d like him to stay beyond 2020.
“I think we’d both like that but if we talked about it at any length it would then be a contract conversation and he’s on holiday now, so we’ll talk when he comes back.
“Benchmarks are always the question and we can never compete with the Premier League in terms of pay – everyone knows that.
“Gareth is on a journey. He loved the World Cup and he’s built his own belief that we can go further and that motivates him and (assistant manager) Steve Holland. One of the most powerful things he said after our defeat to Croatia was we haven’t done the job.”
Southgate’s current salary is understood to be £1.8million a year, with bonuses taking it closer to the £2.5m his predecessors Allardyce and Roy Hodgson are believed to have earned.
These figures, however, are still much less than the £4m a year Fabio Capello got for England’s joyless run to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and a fraction of the £15m-a-year salaries earned by the likes of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in the Premier League.
Now 47, Southgate has not hidden the fact he would like to return to club management one day, having been sacked by Middlesbrough in 2009.
That failure – the club were relegated from the Premier League on his watch – still rankles and it has taken him nearly a decade to rebuild his reputation as a coach and leader.
Asked if he was concerned that Southgate’s success with England will attract offers from clubs, Glenn admitted: “I want to pay my staff competitively so they are not a flight risk, but I also recognise we are a sports governing body and we’re not a Manchester United.”
Glenn’s admiration for Southgate is undeniable, though, with the chief executive saying the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender “blossomed” in Russia and referring to him “as the definition of the modern manager we want”.
The FA hopes the investment it has made in support staff, the potential of England’s young players and the prospect of what amounts to a home Euros in 2020 will be enough to keep Southgate in the post for another crack at the World Cup in Qatar.