Raheem Sterling has experienced a renaissance at Manchester City. The 27 year-old has been one of the club's outstanding performers in the last couple of months.
But that wasn’t the case as of November 2021. In fact, the England international was so fed up with life at the Etihad Stadium that he wanted to leave the club.
When a player goes to the extent of granting an interview to make public his decision to leave a club, you know he is really fed up and wants out.
As it turns out Sterling plays for a manager who does not accommodate players that are disgruntled or unhappy to be among the group. Pep Guardiola demands 100% from his players and then some more.
That is part of his secret as one of the most successful managers the game has ever witnessed. It’s clear that he demands total commitment from his players. That plays a key role in the performance of the team and the result is continual success.
A player that is not fully committed will be at odds with the Catalan manager. So when Sterling took up arms, he should have known what he was getting himself into.
At the moment it does seem everything is fine. When you score eight goals in your last 14 games and win the EA SPORTS Player of the Month award you are literally flying in the team.
But Guardiola hardly forgets.
The Catalan manager has given an indication that he will not accommodate players that are disgruntled. They will not be given red carpet treatment to stay in the team come next season.
In a recent interview, the City boss gave a hint of how he will handle the situation come next season.
“In one season you cannot just have 11 or 12 players, you have to have a deeper squad and hunger,” Guardiola stated.
“The core and the heart of the squad have to be there and at the same time players have to be happy or (if they) want more minutes, then they have to move. That is normal. Many things are going to happen here at the end of the season.
“Players who are playing, maybe they behave, if they don’t perform well, they are going to be replaced by other players.”
Sterling might be forced to accept one of two alternatives come next season. Either he leaves the club or be content with staying on the bench when his performance is unsatisfactory.
With the signing of Julian Alvarez, Manchester City now have a ready-made alternative, or replacement for the winger.
Right now, Sterling’s contract is set to expire in the summer of 2023. That means at the end of the season he will be left with just a year on his deal. The club may choose to move him on this summer, to avoid losing him on a free a year later.
The fact that there’s currently no talk of a contract renewal despite having just over a year left on his contract suggests that is a possibility.
However, that may not happen in the end as a few other players are also in the same boat with him in terms of their contract situation.
The likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez are all out of contract in the summer of 2023. That suggests City will be working on wrapping up new deals with them by the end of the campaign.
Sterling could easily be the odd one out here and his decision to openly ask for a move away from the club at the end of last year could be the reason.