A report from Sky Sports earlier today talked about a potential transfer that could shake the world. The outlet talked about a potential swap of clubs involving Raheem Sterling and Gareth Bale, with Real Madrid looking to offer £70 million in the deal.
The report went onto claim that representatives from the Los Blancos will decide on an offer for Manchester City after they watch Sterling in England’s upcoming international games against Montenegro and Kosovo.
But as things stand, Sterling remains a City player. So far this season, the 24-year-old has scored seven times in the Premier League. That includes a hat-trick against West Ham.
He has also scored four times in the Champions League. That too includes a hat-trick- the one he scored in City’s rout of Atalanta.
Since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, the former Liverpool man has been on fire. He has been involved in 100 goals in all competitions since that season began, marking an improvement in his final-pass and decision making since that very campaign.
He has now become the very face of battling racism in the game. The Kingston-born winger has been upfront and direct with how the concept has been existing in the English game for years and he’s been one of the first in this generation to take a genuine stand.
Through that, he has become the sort of brand name that many would associate with fighting the ills of racism. That could be just one reason why Real would want him.
At City, Sterling has played either on the left or on the right of a 4-3-3 shape. While he usually does play on the left, he is very effective on the right too.
The English boasts of an incredible tally of 32 goals and 37 assists while playing on the right. He has played only 77 times in that position. These are the sort of numbers that Real want to see in their player.
Bale, on the other hand, has become a controversial figure at the Santiago Bernabeu. More because of his agent and less because of himself.
The Welshman has won one La Liga title at the club, winning four Champions League titles. He has scored in a Champions League final on two occasions, scoring three goals in total.
His relationship with Real and Zinedine Zidane is now at loggerheads, with his agent Jonathan Barnett constantly in a row with the Frenchman. A move to China failed in the summer, but fresh reports have linked him with a January move to the Asian nation.
Bale has predominantly played on the right for Real- like he did at Tottenham. But the Welshman has missed 75 goals in total through injury and his goalscoring numbers have reduced too.
But Sterling is 24 and at the peak of his powers. With Bale’s relationship with Real almost untenable, Sterling represents the sort of business that could revive Real. He brings goals to the plate and he has that authoritative brand about himself that is kept in high regard at the Bernabeu.
He fits right into the Galactico approach that the club has followed. And this love isn’t one-sided too.
In a recent article at the Athletic earlier this season, Sam Lee said:
“Sterling likes the idea of playing for Madrid one day, which, when you think about it, is no surprise, and will not worry City too much just yet.The 24-year-old, sources say, knows he is in the best place for his game right now and ideally would not think about a transfer for another two or three years, and a lot can change in that time – more of which later. Madrid, however, may try to force the issue after a dismal start to the season and that will leave Sterling with a big decision to make.”
It is clear as day that Sterling isn’t against the idea of a transfer away to Spain. As Lee predicted, Real do seem keen on him- days after a goalless draw against Real Betis.
But one thing Real need to bring the best out of him is a free-flowing system. The possession-based, attacking system he has played under Pep Guardiola has changed him into one of the best players in the world.
A similar sort of high-pressing style under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool took Sterling to another level in the 2013-14 season.
It shows how Sterling thrives. He needs freedom and fluidity around him to show his world-class talent. If Real want him, they need to keep this in mind and form a team around him.