Since turning down a new £100,000-a-week deal at Liverpool, questions about where Raheem Sterling will play his football next season have intensified.
The highly sought-after 20-year-old has put Europe’s elite clubs on high alert after revealing he had turned down a lucrative new deal at Anfield because he is “only interested in winning trophies.”
So where will Sterling be playing next season? We take a look at the options open to the exciting England winger.
The word is that Premier League, top four rivals Arsenal are closely monitoring his situation and the forward intensified speculation last week by admitting that he found it “quite flattering” to be linked with the Gunners.
Any early, circulating, rumours were quickly quashed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who pointed to a number of attacking midfielders in his squad who could not even make the starting XI.
Sterling would face stiff competition from Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott – although Walcott has been linked with a move away from the Emirates in recent weeks.
A potential swap deal could be a possibility with Walcott on the fringes of the Arsenal side at present.
Zinedine Zidane has also revealed this week that Real Madrid are monitoring Sterling and has confirmed that the club would be interested in signing the Liverpool winger.
Zidane, current coach of Real Madrid Castilla and tipped to replace current first team manager Carlo Ancelotti, insists the club are looking for the world’s best youngsters to add to their squad – with Sterling certainly fitting the bill.
The 20-year-old has also attracted the interest of Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea, but Zidane’s revelation has put Madrid firmly in the frame to snap up the Liverpool youngster.
“We know who Raheem Sterling is, and of course we are monitoring him as a player,” Zidane said.
“There are very few players in the world who can improve the Real Madrid squad, so it is going to make sense we monitor the progress of the best young players in the world. We monitored Bale for over a year, the same with Isco and also Varane.
“We monitor many of the best young players in Europe, then if we feel they have something to offer Real Madrid we will contact their club and try and make the next step.”
With Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side set to miss out on Champions League football this season, he has admitted that the club will struggle to attract the top players without that added incentive.
“It makes it difficult, there’s no doubt about that. Most players want to be in the Champions League. They want to play at the top level of the game and if you’re not in the Champions League it makes it difficult for you. We know that,” Rodgers said.
“It’s going to be a little like this until we become more stable. We’ve got young players who are growing, getting more experience and then hopefully there will be a period where we qualify again. We want to be in the Champions League. That’s important and it is key for us.
“It’s highly unlikely this year. But Liverpool is a great club. I said that before I came into it. It’s a phenomenal club that players want to play for.”
With Sterling’s future unresolved, speculation as to who could replace the England international at Anfield has intensified.
Barcelona forward Pedro could be a potential option for Rodgers – who has long admired the Spaniard, two-time winner of the Champions League.
Roma’s Miralem Pjanic could also be a potential replacement, but it may not be easy to land the highly rated star.