<![CDATA[ By: Craig Simpkin
The transfer rumour mill has gone into overdrive following the news that Liverpool’s highly talented youngster Raheem Sterling has opted o pull out of his club’s pre-season tour to Asia, amid speculation that he is unhappy at not being allowed to speak to Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have reportedly tabled a £40 million bid for the winger, although this was rejected by Liverpool. And Sterling, who is on record as saying he wants to be challenging for major honours, is far from happy.
Not only has he refused to travel to Asia, he has also missed the first two days of Liverpool’s pre-season training programme through ‘illness’. He has today (Friday) returned to their Melwood training ground. It is believed that Sterling’s relationship with Brendan Rodgers has broken down beyond redemption, and now the 20-year-old is seeking a move to pastures new. So where do the bookmakers see him starting the season – and where is the smart money?
Man City (1.14)
After allegedly having two substantial bids turned down, Man City are the hot favourites to land Sterling’s signature. But with Liverpool unlikely to be willing to let him join a rival, can the Manchester club put together a bid that is simply too good to turn down?
Real Madrid (7)
In what seems like many moons ago now, it was actually Rafa Benitez who signed Sterling as a precocious 16-year-old from QPR.
With the Spaniard having recently taken over at the Bernabeu, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Sterling could find himself posted on a plane to Madrid. This would satisfy Liverpool after all, who wouldn’t be selling him to a domestic rival. But it would probably take the sale of Gareth Bale to sanction the deal. Could an earth-shattering Bale/Sterling swap deal be on the cards?
Man United (9)
The rivalry between Liverpool and Man United might be red hot, but one gets the impression that wouldn’t stop Sterling from jumping ship – particularly after receiving death threats and thousands of abusive messages from Liverpool fans after his phone number was published on social media.
It’s unclear what Louis Van Gaal thinks of Sterling’s abilities as a player, but as his Old Trafford revolution gathers speed it wouldn’t be a surprise if he courted a player who offers so much pace and direct running; the kind that terrifies defenders.
As is so often the case in these scenarios, it is perhaps the smartest move to place a bet on the player staying at his current club.
The Premier League season kicks off in around four weeks, and that isn’t very long for Sterling to dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’ on a move elsewhere. And we’ve seen it time and time again: clubs refusing to buckle to pressure from the player to navigate a transfer. It’s more likely that Sterling will stay with Liverpool and run down his contract.