Barcelona are plotting a move to sign Raheem Sterling in January, and the Manchester City forward is keen to go, according to reports in Spain.
Sterling’s long-term future at the Etihad Stadium is under the spotlight with just two years remaining on his current contract, and Barca are said to be keen to take advantage.
The 26-year-old was linked with an exit from City in the summer, with Premier League rivals Arsenal mooted as a possible destination, but the club’s failure to sign a new striker meant the England man stayed put.
According to Spanish outlet Sport, Barcelona also held a strong interest in the Three Lions international.
While reports over the summer claimed Barcelona officials were in Manchester to discuss a deal for Man United striker Edinson Cavani, following Cristiano Ronaldo’s Old Trafford return, Sport claim they were actually in the city to speak to Sterling over a possible move to Spain.
It is claimed the player was keen, and remains ‘crazy’ about trying to make the deal happen.
But Barcelona continue to be haunted with their financial struggles and decisions made by their former leadership, which could affect their chances of landing Sterling.
According to Marca, the Catalan club still owe €115million in transfer fees for past done deals including €39m to Juventus for Miralem Pjanic, $32m to Ajax for Frenkie de Jong and €13m to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho.
And it means, Sport claim, that Barcelona will look to sign Sterling on loan in January – a move that would apparently ‘interest all parties’.
Sterling is an England hero and key player for his country, but has fallen down the pecking order at Man City under Pep Guardiola, who has favoured fellow Three Lions stars Phil Foden, 21, and £100m summer signing Jack Grealish.
Sterling has made ten appearances in all competitions for the Premier League champions this season, but has played 90 minutes just once in the league. His lack of game time has had a negative impact on his output, too, having managed just one goal and one assist.
And the promise of a bigger role in the Barcelona attack is said to be one of the key reasons why Sterling wants to make the move to Spain.
Barca are still waiting for Sergio Aguero and Ousmane Dembele to return from injury, while 18-year-old Ansu Fati – the successor to Lionel Messi’s No.10 shirt – is not yet ready to lead the line for the iconic club.
Messi and Antoine Griezmann both left the Nou Camp in the summer and, while they brought in Aguero, only fellow summer signing Luuk de Jong is fit to play in that key centre-forward role.
Their failures up front this season are a big reason why Ronald Koeman’s men currently sit ninth in the table with just three wins from their opening seven games. They have scored 11 goals in those matches, whereas El Clasico rivals and LaLiga leaders Real Madrid have netted double that tally.
Sport claim Barcelona still have a strong relationship with Sterling’s camp following the failed summer deal, and the option of signing him ‘remains on the table’ in January.
However, all will depend on whether they can afford it, with claims ‘Sterling’s salary is high, but affordable’ for the fallen giants.
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