Raheem Sterling will reportedly ask Pep Guardiola to grant him a move away from Manchester City if he is not a regular in their side again come January.
The signing of Jack Grealish has seen the 26-year-old being marginalised by Guardiola this season. From being an automatic pick, Sterling has started only three Premier League games this term, with nine outings in total. The winger has been given the nod to start just once in the Champions League, with three more appearances off the bench.
It is all a far cry from his previous six seasons with the Citizens. He was a regular starter and has scored 79 top-flight goals for the Etihad giants. As such, a report this week claimed City had placed a lowball figure on his head were he to secure a move.
That has, understandably, caught the attention of a series of suitors. Arsenal have long been rumoured to be keen, but it seems it is Barcelona who are leading the charge.
Indeed, as per the Daily Mail, Sterling will ask Guardiola to grant him his wish to move to Catalonia come January window.
With Sterling frustrated by a lack of action, they state he’ll push to leave if his situation doesn’t improve. Amid concerns over his place at the 2022 World Cup, Sterling reportedly sees a move as a way to rekindle his career.
They state that new manager Xavi first identified Sterling as a target back in 2019 should he ever take charge at the Nou Camp.
Furthermore, president Joan Laporta is now seeking a way to see how the deal could be structured. With finances tight, however, they reckon Barca could look to sign Sterling on an initial loan deal.
And in an interview for the Financial Times Business of Sport, Sterling indicated a move abroad is of interest.
“If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it.
“Football is the most important thing to me, [with the] challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams to go abroad as well.
“As an English player all I know is the Premier League. I’ve always thought one day I’d love to play abroad — see how I would come up against that challenge.”
Sterling talks at a standstill
As it stands, Sterling will have just 18 months left on his deal by the time January rolls around. And with talks over a new deal seemingly at a halt, City will reportedly listen to offers.
Indeed, Guardiola recently responded by challenging Sterling to “make a phone call” if he’s seeking a move away.
And earlier this week, Guardiola confessed that it is tough for any player to ignore the advances of the Catalans.
“The city, the club, the history and this for the coaches, for the players, always seduces a lot,” he said. “If Barcelona are interested in our player, they will start the machinery, it is transatlantic. Barcelona, in the good and the bad, can do what they want.”