Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling has had a torrid relationship with the press in the past. Whether we’re talking about his achievements on or off the field, he’s been treated unfairly by some journalists and undervalued as a player. He was already a great footballer long before he started to get credit for it at Manchester City three or four seasons ago. City wouldn’t have paid Liverpool so much for his services if he wasn’t. He got better under Pep Guardiola, but all Guardiola did was amplify the tools that Sterling already had at his disposal. He’s still a great player now, and the purpose of this article isn’t to suggest that he isn’t, but something has started to go wrong for him at his current club.
As recently as November 2020, Guardiola told the press that Sterling was capable of getting even better. For all the goals he’d scored, assists he’d made, and influence he’d had over the team, Guardiola felt that the Englishman was on the verge of breaking through to the next level. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen. Manchester City went on to grab the Premier League by the scruff of the neck and win the trophy back from Liverpool easily, but Sterling didn’t play a big part in them doing so. Instead, he spent most of the final third of third of the season drifting in and out of Guardiola’s starting eleven. Young midfielder Phil Foden has made himself a star in the past six months, but his star has risen as Sterling’s has faded. There might not be room for Sterling and Foden in the same team. If there isn’t, Sterling’s the player who’s most likely to miss out.
Sterling’s place in the first team had become so insecure by the time the Champions League final came around that it was a surprise to see him start the game. This was the perfect opportunity for the once-unstoppable player to prove to Guardiola and the rest of the world that he’s still capable of turning in performances at the highest level. Instead, he fluffed his lines. City lost the game (and the trophy) to Chelsea, and Sterling’s performance was utterly ineffectual. Two years ago, the idea of Sterling running at them with the ball at his feet would have kept Chelsea’s defenders awake at night. On that fateful night in Porto, it didn’t even seem to occur to Sterling that he could run at them at all. He was replaced by Aguero after 77 minutes in which he did almost nothing. The British press has since described him as “in a slump” and cast doubt over his worthiness for a starting position with the national team during the Euros. In many ways, Sterling is back where he was in 2017.
The difference between this time the press got on Sterling’s back and last time is that Sterling no longer appears to have his manager’s support or the opportunity to silence his critics with his performances on the pitch. He’ll be 27 later this year, so he certainly doesn’t have another three or four years to waste turning around another negative news cycle. Sterling needs to be on the pitch and playing consistently in order to achieve his best form. He’ll feel that a lack of game time has impacted his recent performances, and he might well be right. He won’t be able to prove his point from the Manchester City’s substitutes bench, though, and so this might be the right time for him to move on from a club where he’s enjoyed such extraordinary success.
Related: Man City To Offer Sterling, Jesus To Spurs For Kane
For Sterling to leave Manchester City would undoubtedly be a gamble. It would be like stacking up all of your chips and putting them on red. It might even be more like lumping everything you have on a single spin of the reels at an online slots website. At least you understand the mechanisms that govern success or failure when you’re dealing with a roulette wheel. There’s no way of guessing what might happen when you play online slots at Rose Slots NZ. You might walk away as a jackpot winner, but there’s no guarantee. You’re just as likely – more likely, in fact – to walk away a loser, and there’s no way of knowing which way things are going to go unless you try. Ask an online slots player, though, and they’ll remind you that you stand no chance at all if you refuse to take the gamble. Sterling has very little to gain by staying at Manchester City other than watching Phil Foden continue to go from strength to strength. He has everything to gain from moving elsewhere.
Quite where Sterling would go is another question. Some reports in England claim that Manchester City’s transfer negotiators have already offered him to Tottenham Hotspur in a proposed part-exchange deal for Harry Kane. How Sterling feels about that is unknown, but the idea of joining an English side that can’t offer him Champions League football will feel like a step down. There’s even talk that he might join Arsenal, which would be an even bigger step down. Sterling is thought to have been an Arsenal fan in his youth, but would that really justify moving to a club that finished 8th in the table and can’t offer him European football of any kind? Chelsea aren’t thought to be interested, and Manchester United isn’t an option. Unless Sterling is willing to lower his expectations and join Spurs and Arsenal, staying in England might not be right for him.
There are several clubs on the continent that would love to add Raheem Sterling to their ranks. In fact, we believe he’d be welcomed with open arms at Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, or either of the Milan sides. Bayern Munich would probably be interested, too. The issue is money. Barcelona and Real Madrid don’t have any, which is why Barcelona’s transfer business this summer is all of the “free ” variety. Inter Milan want to reduce their wage budget, which is why title-winning coach Antonio Conte has resigned in frustration. Bayern Munich’s rigid pay structure wouldn’t cover Sterling’s likely salary demands. Juventus might be an option if they offload Cristiano Ronaldo, but it seems like a long shot. For any deal abroad to happen, Sterling would likely have to take a pay cut and persuade Manchester City to accept a comparatively low fee for the two years remaining on his contract.
Sterling’s route away from Manchester doesn’t look easy, but staying there doesn’t seem smart. Another season on the bench would see his star fade even further – and by that point, Europe’s elite clubs may no longer be interested. If Sterling wants to get back to his best, this summer might be “now or never” for his next big move.
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