Manchester City have reportedly laid down the gauntlet to Raheem Sterling amid rumours that he could try to find a new club in January. The England international has struggled for opportunities under Pep Guardiola this campaign, and with the likes of Barcelona interested in acquiring him, the Sky Blues are demanding clarity on his future.
Just one Premier League goal all season is a poor return for a player who has hit double figures for each of the last four campaigns.
Between 2017 and 2019, Sterling hit by far his best form in a City shirt, notching 77 goal involvements in 100 games across three league seasons.
Little by little though, his importance to Guardiola’s side has started to dwindle as the likes of Phil Foden have emerged on the left wing.
This summer’s £100million Jack Grealish signing has only complicated matters further, with competition more fierce than ever in Sterling’s preferred position.
“Barcelona’s interest is 100 per cent confirmed since June, but at the moment there are no negotiations as Barcelona need to work out whether they can pay for Sterling.
“He will be £45-50m, and the first step has to be from Barcelona.”
The financial aspect does have huge potential to scupper the deal, with mounting debt the primary reason for Lionel Messi’s emotional exit from the Camp Nou this summer.
Stumping up that kind of money for Sterling may therefore be a long-shot, although selling players in the market themselves is by no means out of the question.
In fact, it could be a ‘one in, one out’ scenario if Ousmane Dembele seals his exit from Barca, with Newcastle among a host of clubs to register an interest.
El Chiringuito also reported on Tuesday that they are open to selling Frenkie de Jong at the right price, which could free up both money and space for Sterling.
All told, the emergence of new competition and a downturn in his own form could soon spell the end of the 26-year-old’s stint at the Etihad.
As they crunch numbers behind the scenes, the next play is likely to be on Barcelona who reportedly have to make the first move in January.