Whether Manchester City serve a two-year ban from UEFA competition is anybody’s guess.
Pep Guardiola has bullishly said his intention to stay at the Etihad Stadium, asserting he’ll still be in the dugout, lest he’s sacked for failing to win the title, even if City begin next season in League Two.
The club’s players, however, have rather sensibly kept their counsel. If City’s attorneys can find this judgment quashed by the sport’s greatest power, it’ll be business as usual. It is only if Cas uphold the punishment meted out by UEFA that the back-to-back Premier League champions have an issue.
Sterling, necessarily, is among those who have been connected away.
The England international has turned into one of City’s biggest stars beneath Guardiola. In actuality, it’s tough to imagine anyone has benefitted more in the club from functioning under the Catalan than Sterling who has gone out of flaky winger to ruthless inside ahead in three decades.
It’s that transformation that has resulted in reports of interest from Los Blancos. And while Sterling was fast to bat the rumours away in reaction, he also made sure to leave the door ajar, should the worst occur.
“Right now I am at City and I am really content. However, I say Real Madrid are a fantastic club,” Sterling told Spanish socket AS.
“When you find the white shirt you understand just what the club stands for, it is massive.”
Sterling added: “But at the same time, I have a contract with City today and I must respect this. But it’s a fantastic club.”
Having won every significant domestic honour in England from age 25, the opportunity to strut his stuff on the continent, for one of Europe’s most glamorous and feted clubs may be too good to turn down, particularly when Manchester City is banned from Europe for 2 seasons, precluding Sterling from winning the one significant club honor missing from his CV.
For Real Madrid, the appeal is clear. Running at a pace and with a renewed sense of direction and purpose, Sterling is among the world’s best in his place. Where once his final product was suspicious, at best, he’s now a trusted goal scorer and founder.
His open-play xContribution, that’s anticipated goals and assists for the season is 16.42, the fourth-highest of any Premier League forward.
Sterling has also created the sixth-most Big Chances (9) of any forwards in the contest and nobody can shirt his 34 shot aids by an attacker. All this in a season where, by popular consensus, he has not actually been as great as in the previous couple of years.
Not, that should place Real Madrid off. Despite sitting in LaLiga, Zinedine Zidane’s side are in a weird area in 2020. Conceivably they’ll win their first national league title since 2017 and, critically, their first since Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus in 2018.
Madrid elected not to substitute their all-time high scorer right, how can they? and while Eden Hazard took the No.7 jersey upon finishing his switch from Chelsea last summer, the Belgian has flattered to deceive, scoring once in only nine LaLiga begins before fracturing his ankle for the second time this year.
This Sergio Ramos is Los Merengues’ second-highest scorer with five goals, three of these penalties, following Karim Benzema (13) says it all. On paper, Real’s forward line is piled. None have completely convinced in Zidane’s second coming.
There’s a definite chasm between Real’s established stars, Benzema (32), Bale (30) and Hazard (29), all of whom are slap bang in their prime years and won’t go on much longer, and people under them, Jović (22), Rodrygo (19), Vinícius (19) and Brahim (20), that are the future.
The prior Liverpool forward, incredibly, is not even in the peak of his powers yet. He could conceivably stay at the pinnacle of his position for another five years and that’s precisely the kind of player Actual need; somebody to ease the goalscoring burden on Benzema’s shoulders, freshen up their attack and be the guy till Vinícius, Rodrygo or Jović are prepared.
But in his soccer, in addition to the way he’s spoken out so eloquently against racism and other issues of inequality, Sterling has shown he has the broad shoulders and maturity to carry such a burden of responsibility.
He’s defeated the Premier League and City’s possible Champions League ban would offer the perfect storm for a switch to Spain.