Raheem Sterling’s rise to prominence under Pep Guardiola hasn’t gone unnoticed. The England international has become a regular fixture in the Manchester City time and has come leaps and bounds in his global reputation as well. But Sterling’s recent comments about Real Madrid should alarm City fans.
Ahead of City’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid, Sterling was asked about his situation. He was also asked about Real.
The Englishman said: “When you see the white shirt you know exactly what the club stands for, it’s massive. Right now I’m at City and I’m really happy. But I say Real Madrid are a fantastic club.”
On the outside, that shouldn’t ring too many bells. Many players talk about this, when it comes to a club like Real Madrid. On paper, there is no harm in expressing one’s admiration to another club in a press conference when the upcoming game is against them. Real certainly are a huge club and are no strangers to praise.
But the background to it makes it ominous. Sam Lee from the Athletic has previously said that Sterling does see Real as a ‘dream move’ in the future and would like to move there at some point in his career.
The report went onto state that Sterling’s agents were invited for talks with Jose Angel Sanchez in the summer of 2019. While the move didn’t reach any level, but there is interest from parties to potentially get a deal done.
Lee also said: “Sterling likes the idea of playing for Madrid one day, which, when you think about it, is no surprise, and will not worry City too much just yet.
“The 24-year-old, sources say, knows he is in the best place for his game right now and ideally would not think about a transfer for another two or three years, and a lot can change in that time.”
While that isn’t a surprise considering Sterling’s stature, his performances haven’t hit a high level this season. He has 11 Premier League goals and just a single Premier League assist. In all competitions, he has 20 goals and six assists. Clearly, his assists tally has come down by a notch.
A lot of it could be down to how City themselves aren’t as good as they were last season. They are getting overrun in midfield regularly, leading to the forward players often not being productive enough.
If that is the only reason or not is anyone’s guess. But City’s situation shows that Sterling’s comments might have a big reason.
The Citizens were recently banned from playing Champions League football for two seasons. That can lead to players departing for other pastures- like it happened with English clubs during the Heysel disaster when English sides weren’t allowed to play in Europe. Players like Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes had left England during that very phase.
In that sense, the appeals from City will be huge for Sterling’s future. The groundwork, if Sam Lee is to be believed, was laid last summer. Sterling sees Real as a dream club and all that points to one thing- if given a chance, he wouldn’t be against the move.