There have been reports that Valentino Rossi has all but completed a deal to join Petronas Yamaha next season, including a further option for 2022, with only a few details to be decided.

But interestingly, as of today (May 11), has been told that official talks are yet to take place between Rossi and the Sepang team.

Instead, the Malaysian squad has been informed that the first contact should be this week, to start the discussion with the nine-time world champion.

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That's not to say that Rossi hasn't already been in talks with Yamaha, which will presumably continue to pay the bulk of his salary next season, and Sepang with Yamaha.

But options/deadlines for 2022, PR duties, image rights, personal sponsors and especially his mechanics and crew chief are among the likely topics that eventually need to be agreed between Rossi and Sepang.

None of those are expected to be deal-breakers and if talks do reach a standstill then Yamaha - having pledged that The Doctor will receive "a Factory-spec YZR-M1 and full Yamaha Motor Co. engineering support" if he chooses to race on - would presumably bridge the gap.

"We are keeping [the seat] open for him," Sepang team principal Razlan Razali told recently. "But we really need to understand the deal. What are the dos and don’ts? We need to understand what he wants."

Rossi, 41, had planned to make a decision on his racing future after testing his competitiveness during the opening races of this year.

Yamaha couldn't wait that long and signed rookie star Fabio Quartararo from Petronas to take his place alongside Maverick Vinales next season, while guaranteeing a satellite ride if Rossi does continue. The #46 soon made clear that would only be with Petronas.

The coronavirus delay means the Italian now intends to decide his future before the planned July season-opener. But with a short championship of around ten races (on perhaps five-six circuits) now forecast, it is 99% certain that Rossi will elect to stay for 2021.

Franco Morbidelli, part of Rossi's VR46 Academy, currently rides alongside Quartararo and has a strong chance to remain at Petronas next year if he can continue his impressive winter form.

However, some Moto2 riders - including Sepang's Xavi Vierge - are also on Razali's radar for MotoGP next season.

It is thought that both Yamaha and Sepang need to agree on the team's rider line-up.