Raheem Sterling’s Manchester City career has been one filled with major highs and extremely low lows. From having to prove himself as a young raw winger from Liverpool while also being the victim of blatant racism, to becoming one of the best attackers in European football, to now being questioned about his future at the club he has spent the last seven seasons, the 26-year-old has continued to divide opinion amongst Manchester City supporters.
Recently, the Jamaican-born England international publicly questioned his future at the Etihad, signaling that he might need to find another club If his playing time does not improve under Pep Guardiola. The attacker isn’t the first City player to publicly voice his discontent with the lack of on-field action. Most recently, Bernardo Silva’s tenure at the club seemed to have been coming to an end, with the Portuguese making it known to the Manchester City hierarchy that he would like to leave. Aymeric Laporte and former City winger Leroy Sane have also expressed similar concerns with their respective places in the team as well.
Sterling’s frustration comes due to him falling down the pecking order amongst the attackers at the club. Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez are the preferred starters on the right, while Grealish and Foden have been rotating on the left. Just a few seasons ago, Sterling was being talked about in the same conversations as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, so what happened?
Inconsistency has always been a part of Sterling’s career. It was only until the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City did the winger begin to mature and develop into his true potential.
In the 2019/2020 football season, Sterling finished as the top goal scorer for Manchester City, an achievement he had never done before for any club he represented. In the two campaigns prior, he also enjoyed a goalscoring form that propelled him to being one of the most clinical players in the game.
But after falling off form in the latter stages of last season, he subsequently lost his starting position to new £100 million signing Jack Grealish. The emergence of young talents Phil Foden and Ferran Torres have also not been positive for the Englishman’s fight to hold down a starting position.
Now, Sterling looks at the possibility of taking his talents elsewhere, but where?
For starters, Barcelona have been said to be showing interest. A club that perhaps needs reinforcement to supplement their attack after letting go the likes of Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in recent years. It has also been said that Sterling could make a shock return back to Anfield, a move that would undoubtedly be a catalyst for other major transfers with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane still being major starters for Jurgen Klopp.
The arrival of Newcastle as potential new challengers to the ‘big six’ could entice Sterling into a move that could very well happen as early as January. With the new owners of the Tyneside club looking to bring in quality players to compete with the league’s best, signing a player who has won it all domestically and still feels as though he has something to prove may not be a bad idea for the Magpies.
At 26, Sterling is poised perfectly for a new challenge. With Pep showing more favor to Grealish, Foden and Jesus as his preferred wingers, it is evident that Sterling’s immediate future at Manchester City hangs in the balance.
Whether he should move or fight for his place at the club will always be up for debate. His achievements though, at Manchester City, should be taken more seriously. Sterling is the club’s second all-time leading goalscorer behind Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero, an accomplishment that has gone under the radar, showing just how cruel football can be.