Raheem Sterling could play a key factor in Manchester City’s pursuit of England stars Harry Kane and Jack Grealish.
It’s no secret that Pep Guardiola is looking to strengthen his Premier League title-winning side and both Kane and Grealish have been heavily linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium this summer.
The pair are unquestionably two of the biggest talents in the country, but the big concern is that neither of the England Euro 2020 stars will come cheap.
Speaking to Spanish media outlet Mundo Deportivo, Guardiola addressed the current state of play in City’s transfer window, stating that “many times you want to do things that are not possible.”
As enticing as recruiting two of the best attacking talents in the country may be, spending over £200million on the pair in one summer might provide a challenge too great.
Signing one, rather than both, might be a best-case scenario this summer and if City have to make a decision between the two, Sterling may just provide the answer they are looking for.
Speculation has arisen over Sterling’s own future at the Etihad due to a dip in form last season, seemingly losing his place as one of Guardiola’s ‘undroppables’ amid reports of a rift with the City manager.
The 26-year-old has proven that form is temporary and class is permanent, however, with some stunning performances for England at Euro 2020, putting him in the running for player of the tournament.
Sterling scored the winner in group stage victories over Croatia and the Czech Republic, before netting the first goal in their last-16 triumph over rivals Germany.
For his country Sterling has also formed a formidable partnership with England captain Kane, proven by his assist for the Tottenham striker’s opener in their 4-0 win over Ukraine on Saturday.
The City star put Kane through with a perfectly executed through-pass, which got the ball rolling on one of England’s most impressive displays in years.
In fact, Sterling has assisted the England captain six times for his country, which is more than any player has assisted another for the Three Lions in all competitions in the 21st century.
It is a statistic that would make Guardiola and City fans purr at the thought of them playing together week-in, week-out, potentially replicating the deadly partnership Kane has formed with Son Heung-min at Tottenham.
Though his playing time at the Euros has been limited, Grealish has also shown what he can bring to the table with his assist for Kane’s first goal of the tournament in the win over Germany.
The Aston Villa captain’s stock is as high as any player in the Premier League right now, with his ability to win fouls unmatched and possessing exceptional passing and dribbling abilities.
His numbers for Villa were also fantastic last season with six goals and 12 assists in 26 appearances. Should City sign Grealish, it’s most likely that he would be scrapping with Sterling for a place on the left-side of their front-three.
He could also play on the right, though it’s not his most natural position, and as part of a midfield three.
However, City are well stacked in pretty much every area of the pitch apart from centre-forward, on the back of Sergio Aguero’s exit.
Back in April, Guardiola said it would be ‘impossible’ for the club to sign a big-money striker during the summer window on the back of the departure of City’s greatest ever goalscorer.
He preferred to play with a false-nine last season, but the Champions League final defeat may have changed Guardiola’s thinking as City visibly lacked the presence of a natural goalscorer.
Kane is one of the best strikers in the world and would be the perfect natural fit to replace the void left by Aguero.
Grealish, meanwhile, is one of the best creative players out there and would doubtlessly fit in well at the Etihad Stadium.
Considering City already have the likes of Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Ferran Torres, you would have to consider Grealish as more of a luxury signing — whereas Kane might be viewed as more of a necessity.
Sterling’s understanding with Kane on the international scene bodes well for their potential as an attacking duo next season, and that might be the tiebreaker that influences City’s biggest transfer decision this summer.