Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling will wait until after England’s Nations League fixtures in June before holding negotiations and making a decision over his future, The Athletic understand.
Sterling has enjoyed another productive season — contributing 19 goals and nine assists in 52 games for club and country — but is moving towards the final 12 months of his existing contract.
That has led to renewed speculation this week about a potential transfer away from the Etihad Stadium, with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur the latest sides reported as possible destinations.
But it is believed Sterling has not entertained any talks relating to his next step and, should he exit City, his long-held expectation is to join one of a small number of Europe’s most decorated teams.
Despite having worked with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta when the Spaniard was an assistant to Pep Guardiola at City, Sterling has expressed no desire to follow him to the north London side.
Suggestions that Spurs may be frontrunners because Sterling wants to play for Antonio Conte are denied by sources and it is said his view of the Italian does not surpass total professional respect.
The 27-year-old insisted before City’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid that he was “just happy to be playing” and he would be “selfish of me to speak of any contract situation”.
But he was used only as a late substitute in both legs of the Real tie, which ended in a dramatic defeat, and that encapsulated the most fundamental issue Sterling plans to address this summer.
His commitment to City is known to be strong and this makes a fresh deal plausible, however that is unlikely if it looks as though he will continue to be given a limited role in the most vital matches.
The former Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool attacker is at a stage of his career where he feels it is important to be central to such fixtures and that will be a defining factor in what he opts to do.
While formal conversations in regard to extending Sterling’s stay with the four-time Premier League champions and current top-flight leaders having yet to occur, there is no animosity in the relationship and all indications are that communication has been mature, amicable and honest.
The clear impression is that — for now — his sole focus remains City’s attempts to retain their title amid fierce competition from Liverpool, and then England’s four internationals between June 4-14.
Sterling was a pivotal figure as Gareth Southgate’s men reached the delayed Euro 2020 final on home soil last July and seems to be among the first names on the England manager’s team sheet.
It is anticipated he will be key to their hopes at the Qatar World Cup and, as Sterling enters what should be his peak age bracket, he intends to replicate that kind of prominence on the club stage.
The 2021-22 campaign has seen him pass 100 Premier League goals, move into the top-10 scorers in City history and become the highest marksman during the six-year reign of Guardiola.
(Photo: Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)