Not so long ago, Raheem Sterling was one of Manchester City’s go-to men but now a bleak scenario at the Etihad Stadium awaits him.
The England international, to everyone’s surprise, has lost his place in City’s starting line-up under Pep Guardiola, and his career is somewhat at a crossroads now with the Premier League champions having put him up for sale.
Sportsmail reported last Friday that City would be willing to listen to offers for the 26-year-old winger with Guardiola looking to refine his squad as he plots a fresh era of dominance at the Etihad.
England star Raheem Sterling could be waving goodbye to Manchester City this summer
Sterling is not the only man who could leave in the coming months though with Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte also among those who could be sacrificed.
But with Sterling’s future massively up in the air, it has quickly fuelled talk regarding where he could end up next.
Arsenal and Tottenham are among the Premier League clubs that have been linked with him but there is a long summer ahead and it certainly won’t be a straight shoot-out between the two north London sides.
Here, Sportsmail has taken a look at where the England star could end up this summer, in what could prove a pivotal moment in his career…
The Gunners are understood to have an interest in both Sterling and Mahrez, with Arteta having worked with both during his time as Guardiola’s assistant at City between 2016 and 2019.
Arteta worked closely with Sterling at City and has been largely credited for helping the winger improve his end product.
During their time working together, Sterling turned into a goal machine and one of the best players in European football.
Sterling netted 23 and 25 times during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns respectively. So his former partnership with Arteta could prove beneficial to Arsenal.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is eyeing a reunion with Sterling, having worked together at City
However, given Arsenal’s plight it appears unlikely that Sterling would make the move to north London this summer.
Arsenal have missed out on European football altogether for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign following a dismal season, which culminated in them losing to Villarreal at the Europa League semi-final stage.
So given Arsenal’s European absence and a lack of money, it is extremely hard to see Sterling dropping a level – especially with his financial demands appearing too high for the Gunners.
From one north London side to another. Tottenham have also been linked with Sterling but not in the same way that Arsenal have been.
Again, following a difficult season at Tottenham – which saw them finish seventh in the Premier League – the proposition of moving to Spurs doesn’t appear the most appealing for Sterling.
However, Harry Kane’s desire to leave Tottenham in his bid for silverware could get the wheels in motion regarding Sterling’s future.
Sterling could be used as a makeweight in City’s bid to land Tottenham talisman Harry Kane
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is rightly reluctant to sell Kane, who is valued at around £150million, but City could perhaps entice their English rivals by launching an interesting offer.
And according to the Sun, City are prepared to offer both Sterling and Jesus to Tottenham as they desperately look to secure a deal for Kane in order to maintain their dominance in England and finally go one better in the Champions League.
A move to Tottenham may not be Sterling’s first choice but he may just end up in north London if City can tempt their counterparts into the fascinating swap deal.
Yes this one is definitely a long shot but we have seen madder things in football down the years.
Sterling left Liverpool on acrimonious terms for City in a £49million deal in the summer of 2015, and he hasn’t looked back.
Liverpool supporters still voice their bitter opinions towards Sterling whenever he rocks up to Anfield with City after making the move to the Etihad as he looked to play regularly at the highest level.
Liverpool may look to former player Sterling if Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane depart
But there’s a very small possibility that he could make a sensational return to Liverpool, who have emerged as City’s biggest rivals in English football after sealing the Premier League title in 2019-20.
A move to Anfield hinges on the futures of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who have tenuously been linked with moves away – specifically to Spain.
If either one of Liverpool’s star strikers departs this summer, Jurgen Klopp could be tempted to take advantage of Sterling’s predicament at City and seal what arguably would be the most remarkable signing of the summer window.
However, it is certainly a long shot…
Spanish giants Madrid have been long-term admirers of Sterling and it would be a move that would definitely appeal to the England international.
Sterling’s recent lack of game time under Guardiola had alerted Madrid and City’s willingness to listen to offers for their winger will have given the Spaniard’s fresh hope of landing a deal.
Sterling had been heavily linked with a move for Sterling when City faced a two-year expulsion from the Champions League but after the English giants won their appeal, the Englishman stayed put.
A move to Spanish giants Real Madrid this summer is likely to appeal to the 26-year-old
But now they could reignite their interest in Sterling, who may be seeking a fresh challenge away from England.
However, due to Madrid’s managerial uncertainty and their lack of financial resources amid the ongoing Covid pandemic, a move could be put on ice for the time being.
French juggernauts PSG are always on the hunt for big-name players and they will be closely monitoring Sterling’s situation in Manchester.
After relinquishing their Ligue 1 crown to Lille this season, the Parisians will be desperate to make a statement of intent this summer in their bid to reclaim dominance.
And Sterling could potentially form a hugely fearsome frontline alongside Neymar and Co under manager Mauricio Pochettino, who knows Sterling well from his time in England.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino could be tempted to make a move for England winger Sterling
And with Kylian Mbappe’s future still in doubt, having not yet come to an agreement with PSG over a new contract following the expiration of his deal in 2022, the Parc des Princes outfit could be tempted to make a move for Sterling.
But staying in England or moving to Spain appears more on the cards for Sterling right now.
OR WILL HE STAY AT MANCHESTER CITY?
While City are open to listening to offers for the 26-year-old, it doesn’t guarantee that his career at the Etihad is over.
If the right offer doesn’t come in for Sterling or City can’t tempt Tottenham into a swap deal involving Kane, then the Premier League champions won’t be forced into selling him.
If that’s the case, then Sterling knows it’s time to put his head down and resurrect his City career following this summer’s Euros.
Not so long ago, Sterling was one of Guardiola’s main men and there’s every chance that could be the case again in the future.
Sterling will be desperate his City career doesn’t end with a whimper and he will be hopeful of winning back the trust of Guardiola if he is given another chance.
Sterling could resurrect his City career under Pep Guardiola having lost his place in the side