The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for Raheem Sterling with a possible exit from Manchester City on the horizon in the summer.
The Manchester City juggernaut is up and running, and they are just one step away from winning a treble of Premier League, Carabao Cup and UEFA Champions League, having progressed to the final this week. So, following an underwhelming 2019/20 campaign, Pep Guardiola and his men have rediscovered their swagger, often scoring goals for fun while being extremely solid at the back.
Some, like John Stones, have resurrected their careers while big summer signing Ruben Dias has proven to be a game-changing transfer. Phil Foden has continued his upward trajectory to reach his immense potential while Kevin De Bruyne, their talisman, has continued to go strong.
The season has also given rise to a new talisman in Ilkay Gundogan, who is surprisingly the club’s top scorer in the ongoing campaign. However, despite all the positivity flowing through the Etihad, there have been some players who have endured a dismal fall from grace and have not been nearly as influential as they would have hoped to be. One such player is Raheem Sterling.
For years, the English international has been one of the shining lights for Manchester City under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, who has completely transformed the attacking ace. In 2020/21, though, he has been a pale shadow of his domineering self, managing just 13 goals and 11 assists in 45 appearances across all competitions.
Worse still has been the fact that he has been rotated more aggressively than ever before. And, as per recent reports, it has been suggested that Manchester City are open to the prospect of selling him. Indeed, with Jack Grealish on their radar, it is not hard to see why they might be looking to offload Sterling this coming summer.
If he is, in fact, deemed surplus to requirements, there is unlikely to be a shortage of suitors for Sterling heading into the summer transfer window, considering he is set to enter his peak years, in theory. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three potential destinations for Sterling, in the case he is sold by Manchester City ahead of the 2021/22 season.
Let’s get the obvious pick out of the way. Real Madrid have been interested in signing Sterling for some time now, as they scour the transfer market for ways to bolster their attacking unit in the summer transfer window.
As per Football Insider, the Merengues are now keeping tabs on his situation, amid the advent of question marks surrounding his future at the Etihad. The interest in the 26-year-old, though, makes a great deal of sense for Real Madrid.
Lucas Vazquez is facing an uncertain future at Real Madrid while youngsters like Marco Asensio, Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. have blown hot and cold over the course of the season, with their inexperience shining through more often than not.
To make matters worse, Eden Hazard, their last marquee signing, has hardly made an impact after spending more time on the sidelines than on the pitch. While Hazard is still regarded quite highly at Real Madrid, it is prudent for Los Blancos to sign another wide attacking ace in order to have their options sorted all through the season.
What Sterling also brings to the table for Real Madrid is a glut of goals – something that they are desperately seeking in the form of a top class striker. Indeed, Real Madrid have been overly dependent on Karim Benzema for goals since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018 and that has proven to be their undoing in crunch situations.
Sterling, to that end, will be a step in the right direction for Real Madrid, seeing as he would be able to share a lot of the goalscoring responsibilities with Benzema. His directness will also add another element to their attacking moves, although his £75 million valuation could prove to be a hindrance amid a cash crunch in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Juventus, like Real Madrid, could possibly find it difficult to raise £75 million to sign Sterling from Manchester City. However, the English international is the kind of player who can breathe new life into a team that has gone stagnant this season due to their largely one dimensional style of play.
Indeed, the Bianconeri do not have a player who can take on the opposition defenders at will while penetrating the spaces with pace. Keeping that in mind, Sterling is a player who can add some much-needed dynamism in the Juventus attack, especially as they turn their attention towards reclaiming their Serie A title from Inter Milan next season.
With Paulo Dybala, who has been linked with Real Madrid’s bitter rivals Barcelona and Manchester City’s neighbours Manchester United, facing an uncertain future at the Allianz Stadium, a spot in Andrea Pirlo’s squad could be set to open up – one that could be filled by Sterling.
The Englishman would also be an upgrade on Alvaro Morata and his presence in the attacking tandem could make him an ideal foil for Cristiano Ronaldo in the final third. And, if Juventus do manage to rake in a considerable sum for Dybala, they could find a way to procure the required fee to swoop Sterling away from soon-to-be Premier League champions Manchester City.
Unlike Real Madrid and Juventus, the scale of the impact of COVID-19 at PSG has been relatively minimal. With that in mind, the French giants might just be best placed to sign Sterling this coming summer, if they decide to show an interest in him.
Any potential interest in Sterling will not be unfounded either, considering Kylian Mbappe is being heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Angel Di Maria is well into his thirties and will need to be replaced soon enough. Even if Mbappe stays put at Parc des Princes, Sterling could be an option to either lead the line for PSG or play from either flank, if Mbappe is picked as a the central striker.
Indeed, while Mauro Icardi has been extremely inconsistent at PSG, Moise Kean is unlikely to be signed on a permanent deal from Premier League outfit Everton. Therefore, it might be a step in the right direction for PSG to sign Sterling and create a fearsome attacking quartet also comprising of Mbappe, Neymar and Di Maria. Whether they show an interest in Sterling, though, would prove to be a big if.