Real must break the bank to land Sterling

Manchester City
We have reached the halfway point in the group stage of the Champions League and four teams in particular are standing out from the crowd.

Real Madrid would have to break the current world transfer record to stand any chance of enticing Manchester City into a sale of Raheem Sterling.

Senior insiders at the Etihad laughed off the reports earlier this week the Spanish giants are prepared to offer £70m plus Gareth Bale to make a deal happen next summer.

Sterling has three years left on his City contract and previously hinted he could one day be tempted to ply his trade in La Liga, admitting he would enjoy living in a warmer climate.

However, there is no suggestion the England star is starting to make eyes in the direction of the Bernabeu, with his advisers also rubbishing claims they are already trying to leverage more money out of his present employers as a result.

Sterling’s sparkling form for club and country this season has the rest of football now talking up the 24-year-old as one of the best players in the world.

The former Liverpool attacker took his total tally this term to 18 goals with the opener in Wednesday night’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Italian side Atalanta, which left Pep Guardiola’s team with one foot now in the next round, barring defeats in their final two group games to Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.

And as far as City’s powerbrokers are concerned, they presently value Sterling at more than the current world record £198m fee Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona to sign Brazil superstar Neymar in 2017.

Alongside wages that would have to be more than the £300,000-per-week the player already collects from the Citizens, any buyer would have to find a staggering £400m package to even entertain signing the player.

City know Sterling’s valuation will only further increase if he was to also star for the Three Lions at next summer’s European Championships.

It’s understood the Premier League champions could look to further extend his contract duration at some point and they will certainly want to avoid a repeat of last year, when Sterling renewed with just 16 months left on his agreement.

City were mocked in some quarters when they agreed to pay Liverpool £49m to sign him back in 2015, so are quite rightly smug about Sterling’s global standing in the game – not to mention the massive profit they would stand to make if he did ask to leave them at some point.