Raheem Sterling is one of the players Barcelona are lining up to cover for his former Manchester City teammate Sergio Aguero, according to a report that has also revealed a catch to his hopes of making such a move.
Sterling is approaching a major decision regarding his Manchester City future. He has been with the club since 2015, going on to score more than 100 goals. But it remains to be seen how many more he will add, because his contract expires in 2023.
City would not want to lose him for free, so the big decision will likely come next summer – or potentially in January if another club comes forward.
Sterling is keeping his options open and recently revealed an interest in testing himself abroad. While he did not name Barcelona specifically, they have been linked for a while.
After they lost Lionel Messi in the summer, Barcelona have been evolving their attack. Memphis Depay, Luuk De Jong and Aguero all arrived to contribute to a new era.
But the process of evolution is ongoing and if Barca’s finances improve, they may return to the transfer market.
Their consideration of doing so recently received new momentum when it emerged that Aguero has an irregular heartbeat and must sit out for at least three months. It continues the frustrating start to his Barca career after it began with a calf injury.
The La Liga giants, who are currently trying to appoint Xavi as their new coach to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman, are now working out how to fill the void that Aguero will leave in the coming months.
According to AS, they have two potential solutions in the transfer market – and Sterling is one. However, he is only their plan B at present.
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Barcelona’s first choice would be Dani Olmo, who previously played in their academy ranks. His professional career has led him to RB Leipzig after a stint with Dinamo Zagreb.
He is now wanted back in Catalonia and would be open to such a move. It may have to be a loan with an obligation to buy. Barca have tried to lure him back before without success, though.
Therefore, they are keeping Sterling in mind as their backup plan. Furthermore, there is a feeling that he could be available for a decent price given his contractual situation.
City are under no immediate pressure to sell, but the longer he delays signing a new deal, the more his market value will drop – when in theory someone who will be 27 years old by January should be at peak price.
Barcelona have two Sterling concerns
Barca do have some reservations about him, though. There are concerns about how he may adapt to a different league, and a perceived decline in form recently.
As such, Olmo remains the priority at Camp Nou. If Sterling pushes for a transfer, though, the situation could change. What’s more, Olmo has a longer contract so may be more expensive.
Either way, Barcelona want to invest in a long-term project after being disappointed with short-term measures like Martin Braithwaite and Kevin-Prince Boateng in recent years.
They are still in huge debt, but have cleared enough space for a new signing to fit within La Liga’s salary cap. The biggest names like Erling Haaland are out of reach, but Sterling or Olmo are certainly of a good standard.
In addition, they are both capable of featuring anywhere across the frontline, which furthers their reputation among the Barcelona hierarchy.
Sterling may have to recapture some of his better form to convince them to choose him, though.