Manchester City are blessed with having some of the best squad depth in the world, and they believe one of their academy graduates has the potential to be a first-team regular
Reports have circulated that Manchester City are willing to let Raheem Sterling depart this summer, and the club already have a replacement waiting in the wings.
Sterling has found that he is no longer one of the first names on the team sheet at the Etihad Stadium, with increased competition in Pep Guardiola’s side. And with the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez already this summer, the former Liverpool prospect could be surplus to requirements at City.
Reports have circulated that Sterling is capturing the attention of top European sides now that he is potentially available, with Chelsea and Real Madrid both cited as interested parties. And according to The Times, City are not overly reluctant to let the forward depart as Guardiola intends on giving Cole Palmer more opportunities next season.
The academy graduate is said to be impressing the City staff and they are ‘marvelled at his progress’. Palmer is a right-winger and therefore would be seen as somewhat of a direct replacement for Sterling if he departs.
Arsenal are also amongst those keen to improve their forward options by signing Sterling, but they appear to have been ruled out of the running due to their late collapse last season. The Gunners threw away their advantage over north London rivals Tottenham as the campaign began to conclude, therefore meaning they will be playing Europa League football next season.
Sterling is only willing to leave City to play Champions League football next season, meaning that the Gunners are certainly more likely to pinch Gabriel Jesus from the Etihad Stadium rather than Sterling. The Brazil international has been heavily linked to Arsenal this summer, who view the forward as a long-term no.9 option.
According to Manchester Evening News, Palmer is likely to undertake the ‘Phil Foden route’ at City over the coming campaign, working with the first team rather than going out on loan. The England U-21 international is likely to gradually become more and more of an important player over the upcoming seasons, although Guardiola appears unwilling to throw him in at the deep end on a regular basis.
Sterling, of course, will be a significant miss for City but if Palmer continues to rise through the ranks and impress key figures along the way then he is destined for a big future at the club – and was rewarded for his work last summer with a contract extension until 2026. But former Liverpool star Steve McManaman believes that Sterling will not be a too significant loss to the Premier League title holders and that a move to Chelsea would benefit the player.
He told Horseracing.net: “I think it’ll be a good move for Raheem because he’s an excellent player and his goals over the last few years have proved that I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s better than Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish but I don’t think that’s the right comparison because they’re all different players.
“There is the fact that you’re letting one of your players go to a title rival, but Pep Guardiola might be happy for him to do that because he knows he’s going to keep Bernardo Silva, Mahrez and Grealish. You just have to trust “Pep and what he wants to do, and what the player wants. If the player wants to play more games and tells the manager they want to leave, then that’s football now, but Manchester City are blessed in those positions.”