Manchester City are expecting to field an opening offer from Chelsea for Raheem Sterling after Thomas Tuchel engaged the England international over how he would fit in at Stamford Bridge.
The forward heads a shortlist of the manager’s attacking targets and enters the final year of his contract with the Premier League champions, who are grateful for his service and will not obstruct his desire for greater minutes and status elsewhere.
Pep Guardiola has repeatedly stated “I don’t like to keep players that are unhappy” and is open to allowing Sterling’s exit this summer, even to a Premier League rival, on condition that an acceptable bid in the region of £50m is tabled.
The 27-year-old believes he is in the decisive phase of his career and wants to make a significant contribution on and off the pitch.
He has held respectful discussions with City in this regard and a decision on his future will revolve around the influence he will be able to have – especially in the big matches.
Tuchel contacting Sterling and spelling out his vision speaks to how serious Chelsea’s interest is. They have also tracked Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele and Everton’s Richarlison.
The fact that City can cede two attackers to members of the ‘Big Six’ – Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal for £45m and potentially Sterling to Stamford Bridge – without trepidation is a sign of their solid recruitment and the gap that exists between the clubs.
Intra-league transfers at the top end of the table are set to become more common as European teams struggle to financially compete with their English counterparts.