Raheem Sterling is considering his options at the moment. The Manchester City forward has fallen down the pecking order this year under Pep Guardiola, and he is the latest City player to appear willing to leave the club.
The England international has been an important player for Guardiola for much of his time in Manchester, but 2021 has seen him have to settle for a more peripheral role, and he has only started two games so far this season.
A move abroad
As a result of his reduced playing time, Sterling has admitted that a move overseas is something that he would be interested in.
“If there was an opportunity to go somewhere else [for more game time], I would be open to it at this moment in time,” Sterling said at the FT Business of Sport US summit.”As I said, football is the most important thing to me – challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well, to play abroad.
“As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I have always had something down (in me) that maybe one day I would love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge.
“I’m not a person that’s going to complain. I’ve not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is. I get on with my work, do what I need to do. And I’m just raring to go – playing football matches regularly, score goals regularly.”
A delicate contract situation and Qatar 2022
With the World Cup in Qatar now just around the corner and a year away, Sterling has had to start thinking about his own personal situation. He wants to be part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad again, and he’ll have to be playing if he is to make it, particularly given the competition he faces in attack from other similar players.
Sterling, 26, has just under two years left on his City contract, which will expire in June 2023, so the end of the season which will be interrupted by Qatar 2022.
Unless he signs a renewal, which appears unlikely at the moment, City’s last chance to sell him on for something in return will be next summer, 2022. From then, the forward will be in a position of power and able to walk away for free, so it might well be in the club’s interests to start listening to offers if they can’t convince him to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.
“Our incredible successes over the last few seasons would have been impossible without Raheem,” Guardiola said in September.
He is such an important player, he reaches incredibly high standards and I have to tell him those are the standards he has to keep for himself and the team and I am sure he will return to that. I am optimistic he will have a very good season.”
Unless Sterling starts playing though, even despite public praise from Guardiola, he’ll be left with no other option but to look elsewhere and a move overseas might be the best thing to take his career on another level.