With a much publicised transfer saga beginning over a contract dispute with Liverpool, Raheem Sterling may be in for a big money move, with a host of clubs are being linked to his name. Arsenal, Chelsea, both Manchester clubs have all been labelled interested while Juventus, Bayern, Madrid and Barcelona are the clubs keen in his services from around the continent. The transfer saga has a national interest as the 20-year-old is seen as one of the biggest prospects in the English game, a place on the bench at a large club could have repercussions for the three lions and Sterling’s personal development.
A move to Arsenal is often touted within the media for the former QPR academy as close sources have sounded out that Arsenal is Sterling’s favoured move and the Gunners seem keen to keep the fire alight, as Wenger showed little intention of pouring cold water on the links by offering his support to Sterling during his contract stand-off. The Frenchman states “I’m not sure if it’s the player who causes the problems.”
A trip south for Sterling would at least see him continue wearing a red jersey and he would link up with more English internationals, Wilshere, Welbeck and Walcott, to name a few. The problem arises as to whether Sterling is necessary to Arsenal as the overflow of midfielders has seen Ramsey play wide right at the expense of a more traditional winger in Theo Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain. £50m is a large amount of money for a youngster who may not hold down a regular first team spot. Looking at Arsene Wenger’s transfer history, it seems unlikely that the Gunners will spend that amount of money on an arguably unneeded attacking outlet.
Whenever a big name kicks up a contract fuss, stories about transfers to Manchester are a given. Manchester City are due to be active in the transfer window after not living up to expectation this season, and along with the new rules on homegrown players, a transfer bid for Sterling is surely inevitable. City have the money to finance the bid and will easily be able to pay him his contract needs, if there are any of course, as Sterling says he just wants to play football. The Citizens need to boost their English quota and want to add more attacking sources to the squad as Jesus Navas has performed poorly. If City can outbid the other footballing giants then they may successfully capture Sterling from their North-West rival.
Manchester United have also been linked with a move for the England international and will definitely be able to fund a move for Sterling. A bit like Arsenal though, Sterling may nit be necessary as they have already signed Memphis Depay and have an out of form Angel Di Maria ready to rediscover his talents. The pricey move for Sterling may see United pass up the opportunity to sign Liverpool’s contract rebel.
Chelsea could add Sterling to their ranks as they are light on attacking outlets if injuries occur. Cuadrado also hasn’t lived up to expectation but is certainly due more time. This alone may see Chelsea drop their interest in Sterling. Adding to this is the fact that Drogba is leaving so money will likely be spent adding to the front line and not the fancy lot behind, especially as Mourinho and Abramovich have the collective goal of coinciding with the FFP laws so Chelsea won’t be busy, they will be efficient.
Moving abroad isn’t out of the picture either for Sterling. Juventus present a different lifestyle to that he has currently in Liverpool which will allow Sterling to experience a different culture and aid his development as a new challenge is presented. However, with Italian football in such a sorry state, the league may not represent a big enough attraction for Kingston born Sterling. The Scudetto winners are however very competitive in the Champions League and have secured a place in next seasons competition, something Liverpool failed to do. This may leave Sterling with some thinking to do. Juventus could afford the £50m fee but having already spent £30m on Paulo Dybala, their heavy spending may already be done.
Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich have been heavily linked to Sterling and all the factors work in their favour. They are able to afford the rather expensive price tag, offer Champions League football and seemingly endless amounts of trophies which come with their national domination. Sterling would also be surrounded by world-class talent of which include Robben and Ribery. The Bayern duo reap experience of which Sterling could learn from, aiding his development which may eventually lead to the English man replacing one of them in the Bavarian starting 11.
Real Madrid also offer as much as Munich but may not see Sterling as a Galactico, which may see them withdraw from the transfer race. Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo operate the front three and Sterling isn’t currently as good as any of them. The competitive league and lifestyle may convince Sterling that Madrid is the right fit for him but the success of the transfer depends as to whether Real see Sterling as the right man for them.
The other Spanish club linked with the 20-year-old is Barcelona. Whether there is any real interest remains debatable as Messi, Suarez and Neymar light up world football as one of the greatest trios ever. There seems to be no place in the starting 11 for Sterling and the only possible reason Barca would spend the money was if Suarez pushed for him to join, which doesn’t seem likely.
The final destination Sterling could end up playing his football next season is, of course, Liverpool. With two years left on his contract Liverpool can play hardball and keep the England star. Brendan Rodgers seems adamant that Sterling isn’t leaving and John Henry, the owner, is notorious at shutting up shop when negotiating. Last summer, Barcelona had to fork out £70 million for Suarez. Sterling may renegotiate after being told he can’t leave and all may be forgotten about.
With the summer window fast approaching, this story is bound to dominate the back pages. Only time will tell as to where Sterling will be playing his football next season. Lets just hope, for England, that he chooses a move that will guarantee him first-team football to develop the superb potential the young man possesses.