Raheem Sterling’s protracted contract negotiations with Manchester City have caught the attentions of Real Madrid, who are ‘monitoring’, according to reports from ESPN.
The 23-year-old is in the last two years of his deal at the Etihad and a new one is yet to be agreed, which is in contrast to the Premier League champions usual method of getting key players secured on lengthy deals.
Rumours persist that the England international is seeking a sizeable raise on his £175,000 p/w wages before he agrees to extend his stay beyond 2020.
Pep Guardiola has been fulsome in his praise of the former Liverpool winger, who chipped in with a personal best tally of 23 goals in 46 games in all competitions last year, and was not keen to be drawn on the specifics of the negotiations.
“It’s well-known that we are delighted with him, we would like him to continue,” he said last month. “After [all], it is the club and the agent. I am not involved. Sometimes these kind of things need their own time.
“What’s important is that Raheem and his people know how delighted we are with him.”
But could news that the Spanish giants, who are thought to be on the lookout for a new generation of talent after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the feeling of the approach of an end to the era of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, are keeping tabs on developments sway his decision making.
"Definitely, it would be nice to play abroad. It would be a great experience. Spain's attractive. Anywhere the weather is nice really," he said last year.
The former QPR youth teamer set City back £49 million when the brought him to the club and, having significantly progressed in his development since then, he’d likely fetch more than that now - even if he is nearing the end of his deal.
The blues were linked with a move for the precocious young Real Madrid Marco Asensio in the last two transfer windows as he was rumoured to be unsettled with the slow nature of his integration into the first team picture at the Bernabeu.
A versatile, technical attacker with a real eye goal, he looks every inch the Guardiola player. Could the 22-year-old be a potential straight-ish swap for Sterling should he chose to up sticks?