Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling told the Financial Times of his desire to leave the English Premier League champions, shaping what could be the sport’s next potential blockbuster transfer.
In an interview at the US Summit on FT’s Sports Business This Thursday in New York, the 26-year-old forward was asked about the lack of recent playing time in the team led by renowned Spanish coach Pep Guardiola.
“If there was an opportunity to go elsewhere, I would be open to it right now,” he said, before suggesting that he would prefer to move to a club in France or Spain.
The comments reveal frustration at not being considered a regular starter at City for several months, and came during a lengthy conversation in which the player also spoke about his starring role on England’s national team during this summer’s European Championships. as well as the racist abuse he faced. by black English players.
But it’s Sterling’s statement about a potential move that will get attention. One of the stars of the Premier League, he signed for City in 2015 from Liverpool for a transfer fee of £ 49m, a record for an English player at the time. Sterling’s existing contract with City ends in 2023.
Its availability is likely to pique the interest of many of the world’s biggest clubs, but a move may prove difficult at a time when the sport’s multi-million dollar transfer market has been depressed as teams cut spending. in players.
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Clubs across the continent have collectively suffered a revenue shortfall of € 8 billion during the pandemic due to lost ticket and broadcast revenue, according to the European Club Association, the body that represents more than 200 teams. leaders.
The best Spanish clubs, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, have responded to the financial crisis by selling players above all else this year. France’s Paris Saint-Germain, which is owned by the state of Qatar, have kept their huge spending: they signed players like Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, but they also seem to be well supplied with offensive talent.
But Sterling said: “As an English player, all I know is the Premier League. I always knew that maybe one day, I would love to play abroad and see how I would meet that challenge. “
He was a key element in the England men’s team reaching their first grand final in 55 years at this year’s Euro 2020 competition. Sterling attributed the progress to the laid-back mood created by head coach Gareth Southgate, but also to a less combative relationship between players and the media in recent years.
“That has been the biggest problem with the national team for many years,” he said. “Have [built] that bridge now to a point where it’s nice to come [to the England camp]You will see people from the press and you don’t feel like no one is after you, ”he said.
Sterling, however, criticized politicians who did not defend the team for “kneeling” before games to protest racism. Ahead of the Euro, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel dismissed the event as “gesture policy” and defended the right of fans to boo him.
After three black England players missed penalties in the final penalty shootout against Italy, a match England lost, they were subjected to a torrent of racist abuse online.
“It should be a case where you see a situation happening that shouldn’t be allowed,” Sterling said. “I feel like when you bring up racist abuse, it’s not taken as seriously as other topics.”