Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling could now be tempted away from the Etihad Stadium in pursuit of a new challenge, according to ex-BBC pundit Noel Whelan.
The Lowdown: Real Madrid interested in Sterling
According to a recent report by The Times, Spanish giants Real Madrid have stepped up their interest in the 27-year-old as the Sky Blues winger ponders his future at the Manchester club.
Sterling is set to be out of contract at the end of next season, so he will soon sit down with City executives and decide whether or not to commit his long-term future to the Premier League champions.
According to Transfermarkt, the England international has a current market valuation of £76.5m, but with his contract running short, Real Madrid may be able to sign the winger away for less than that.
The Latest: Whelan’s claim on Sterling
Whelan, who used to work as a pundit for BBC Radio, has claimed that it will be difficult for Sterling to resist the lure of Los Blancos.
Speaking with Football Insider, the 47-year-old claimed: “I think there are very few clubs capable of prising a player away from Man City right now.
“You’re talking about Barcelona, Real Madrid, and possibly Paris Saint-Germain. It would be extremely difficult to turn them down.
“The history says it all for Real Madrid, and Sterling would enhance them even more and give them another option.
“It’ll be a tempting offer. There aren’t many who can say no to Real Madrid when they come calling.
“He’s won pretty much everything at Man City, so maybe he just needs that fresh challenge. This certainly isn’t the first time this has been spoken about.
“He just isn’t getting enough game time.”
The Verdict: Still a top-class player
Whilst Sterling’s minutes have been more limited in the league this season, having featured 23 times in the starting XI, five fewer than the previous season’s total, the 27-year-old remains “a world-class player” according to Everton manager Frank Lampard.
When compared with positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year, the City forward impressively ranks in the 99th percentile for non-penalty expected goals and the 98th percentile for touches in the attacking penalty area (via FBRef).
Should Man City let Sterling leave?
Therefore, with such a mercurial talent falling down the pecking order at the Etihad, Sterling could be tempted by a move to Madrid, with more first-team football in mind.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience