Raheem Sterling: "I've always thought: 'You know, maybe one day I'd love to play abroad and see how I would come up against that challenge.'"; Sterling has struggled for game time at Manchester City since the spring and has started only two Premier League games this season
Friday 15 October 2021 22:33, UK
Raheem Sterling says he would consider leaving Manchester City and moving abroad.
Despite playing a starring role for England during this summer's Euro 2020 tournament, the 26-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular place in Pep Guardiola's side this calendar year.
After scoring 30 goals in 51 appearances during the 2019-20 campaign, the forward only managed to find the net 14 times last term and has started just twice in this season's Premier League.
Speaking at the FT Business of Sport US summit, Sterling said: "If there was an opportunity to go somewhere else, (for more game time), I would be open to it at this moment in time.
"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, to play abroad.
"As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I have always had something down (in me) that maybe one day I would love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge.
"I'm not a person that's going to complain. I've not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is.
"I get on with my work, do what I need to do. And I'm just raring to go - playing football matches regularly, score goals regularly.
"From being a young child, football has been the most important thing in my life, my most happiest I should say.
"If I want my happiness at a certain level I need to be playing football. I need to be scoring goals and enjoying myself."
City boss Guardiola maintains Sterling is still very much a key member of his squad, and he said last month: "Our incredible successes over the last few seasons would have been impossible without Raheem.
"He is such an important player, he reaches incredibly high standards and I have to tell him those are the standards he has to keep for himself and the team and I am sure he will return to that. I am optimistic he will have a very good season."
Sterling, who joined City from Liverpool for £49m in 2015, has less than two years left on his contract at the Etihad.
Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol:
"I don't think it's that much of a surprise. He's 26, he's got a little over 18 months left on his contract and it's fair to say there been some problems in his relationship with Pep Guardiola.
"As far as Sterling's concerned, he's just not been playing enough. You have to also factor in that Man City also don't have a recognised striker and even so, he hasn't been playing regularly. But he was arguably England's best player at the Euros, he has said he would at some point like to play abroad and there will be plenty of clubs abroad who want to sign him.
"Next summer he will only have a year left on his contract; some of these clubs don't have megabucks right now but with a year left on his contract, clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and Juventus would be in the mix. We're being told that currently there are no contract talks with Manchester City; maybe Pep Guardiola has got other plans.
"There's lots of talk they may sign Erling Haaland in the summer; if they got him in, maybe that would be a good time to sell Sterling."
High speed. Those are the words Raheem Sterling used when asked which statistic he enjoys looking at the most after a game or training session.
It seems appropriate for a player who shone at Euro 2020, scoring decisive goals for his country which would lead to England making their first tournament final since 1966.
After all, who can forget England's first match at the Euros, just before the hour mark against Croatia when Sterling made that run through the middle, received the ball from Kalvin Phillips in his stride and scored to begin an unforgettable tournament for Gareth Southgate's side.
Sterling is only 26, but his England career has already spanned almost nine years and in that time he has acquired 70 caps. So what does Sterling remember from his debut in the 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden on November 14, 2012, at just 17 years of age?
"It was good… and it was bad. Obviously we lost, it was when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored that famous overhead kick," Sterling told Sky Sports News.
"When you say nine years, I didn't think it was that long ago…it's been quite the journey."