Raheem Sterling was ready to leave the Etihad for Camp Nou this January according to latest reports.
The Manchester City forward struggled to pin a spot down in Pep Guardiola’s team at the beginning of the season, starting only three of City’s first ten games. In that time, different transfer speculations arose, chief of which was a move away from the Premier League for Sterling.
Barcelona was the club mentioned in those rumours, with some reports even claiming that Manchester City and Barcelona held discussions over a possible transfer for Sterling, who the Catalan club have held an interest in for a while.
However, with Sergio Aguero instead moving to the Camp Nou, Gabriel Jesus failing to convince either, and £100 million Jack Grealish struggling to replicate his Aston Villa form, Sterling slowly found his place again in the squad and is now one of the first names on the team sheet again.
But new reports from The Athletic have now revealed that Sterling was indeed ready to leave the Etihad on loan to Barcelona in January, as he sought more playing time ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar this December.
Both clubs held meetings in November over possible loan transfers with Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres, Aymeric Laporte and Sterling being the reported targets of the Catalans. Barcelona eventually acquired Ferran Torres for a whopping £55 million calling the club’s reported financial struggles into question.
This further strengthened Sterling’s place in the star-studded City squad, where he now leads the club’s Premier League goalscorer charts with seven goals, five of which came in his last eight appearances for the Premier League table-toppers.
Sterling still nursing abroad dreams
Sterling has been able to win Guardiola over again and cemented his place in the team this season, and the sale of Torres to Barcelona has also made his presence in the club very important. However, according to The Athletic, Sterling still has a desire to play abroad.
Sterling also alluded to this in an interview with the Financial Times back in October 2021. “If there was an opportunity to go somewhere else, I’d be open to it at this moment in time,” Sterling said.
“As I said, football is the most important thing to me — challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well.
“As an English player, all I know is the Premier League. I’ve always known that maybe one day, I would love to play abroad and see how I would come up against that challenge.”
Guardiola admits Barcelona could still sign more City players in the near future
Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte are still on the Catalans’ radar and both players are reportedly open to moving to Spain to play for the club. Guardiola expressed a belief that Barcelona’s pull is beyond Manchester City’s despite the Catalan club’s failures and Manchester City’s successes in recent times.
“If Barcelona are interested in any of our players, I am convinced that they can get them,” Guardiola said.
“Barca continues to be an attractive club, more than attractive. The city, the club, the history and this for the trainers, for the players always seduces a lot.
“If Barcelona interests one of our players, they will set up the machinery into operation, it is a liner.
“Barca can use their media to influence signings. That’s the thing about Barcelona; they can do what they want, good or bad.”