Raheem Sterling has recently spoken in glowing terms about Real Madrid and was even pictured with one of their shirts, so Manchester City should be very concerned by the prospect of one of their star men being wooed by the European football giants when they face them over two-legs in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League.
City have already been banned from the competition for the next two seasons, although they are appealing it – but this is a competition the world’s best player’s want to be involved in – and if City don’t win it this season, Sterling would be 28 years old by the time he would have another chance of lifting the trophy if he stayed at the Etihad Stadium.
In an excellent career so far, he has already won every domestic trophy in the English game so he could be ready to move abroad to compete on a different stage. Pep Guardiola has admitted that the club would have a massive fight on their hands to keep him if one of Europe’s elite clubs came calling, but especially Real Madrid.
But if he did move to the Spanish giants, where would he fit in? Los Blancos signed Eden Hazard last summer for £150million, so would they need a similar player? Well, Hazard has so far not been an overwhelming success and has been plagued by injury since arriving in Madrid. If he did find his form again, manager Zinedine Zidane would need to find a way of accommodating both players which could see Sterling playing through the middle – a job he has done before. However, Gareth Bale is consistently linked with a move away from Madrid and Sterling could be the ideal replacement for him.
British players have enjoyed varying degrees of success when moving to Real. David Beckham was an iconic signing by the club, but he only won one major title in four seasons despite being popular with the fans because of his energetic performances on the pitch.
Steve McManaman was a huge hit at Madrid, quickly establishing himself as a firm fans favourite by helping them to win two La Liga’s and two Champions League titles during his four seasons between 1999 and 2003. However, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Owen and Gareth Bale have all experienced mixed fortunes in the Spanish capital.
The big dilemma for Sterling is whether he show’s loyalty to Man City where he has won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and the FA Cup. But Real Madrid would offer him the chance to win the Champions League to add to his already impressive collection of gongs.
He needs to think of his own career and for purely selfish reasons, he should take the chance if it comes and join the Spanish club. Yes, it would be a loss to the Premier League, and Manchester City, but his career can continue to flourish at the Bernabeu, and this will help England too.