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Raheem Sterling to Real Madrid could be the best thing to happen to English football for years

England’s best player batting his eyelashes at Real Madrid.

We’ve heard this one before.

But this time the circumstances are different.

Golden Balls

AFP
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Golden Balls

Back in 2003, soon after taking a ‘stray’ boot to the face from Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham embarked on his Spanish adventure when he was the poster boy of the global game.

Everybody wanted a slice of Becks – heck everyone still does – and Real’s shirt sales and share prices duly sky rocketed.

Beckham was brought in during the height of the Galactico era and was generally deemed a success, winning La Liga in 06/07.

The Galactico Era was something else

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The Galactico Era was something else

Thirteen years on and Raheem Sterling could follow in Beckham’s footsteps, only this time less on commercial terms and more on genuine footballing pedigree.

Real, despite their malaise in recent years since winning three Champions League titles on the trot, remain the biggest club on the planet and Sterling’s admiration for Los Blancos has been well documented.

While his immediate future very much remains with Man City, the 24-year-old is hugely ambitious and is known to want to test the waters abroad.

Sterling with all the players better than him right now

AP:Associated Press
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Sterling with all the players better than him right now

If, and it’s a big if, Sterling wins the Champions League this season,his Etihad trophy cabinet is complete and his eyes may start to wonder.

Given Lionel Messi’s extortionate wages at Barcelona, Real are probably the only club who could realistically afford a deal which would surely break Neymar’s £198m record.

And Sterling, unlike many who have tried and failed before him, has the minerals to cope with the weight of Bernabeu expectation.

You could argue that the same was expected of Eden Hazard, who has so far struggled to live up to the hype since his summer move, but Sterling has four years on the Belgian and more about him.

Sterling has admitted a Real move attracts him

EPA
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Sterling has admitted a Real move attracts him

There is a case to make Sterling – on current form – the best player on the planet right now.

His goal against Aston Villa on Saturday took him above Lionel Messi in the calendar year stakes, smashing a staggering 36 for club and country in 2019.

He has 17 goals and 11 assists for City and England just this season – it’s still October.

But purely from a selfish English fan perspective, the hypothetical scenario of Sterling moving to Madrid is mouthwatering.

Real are a fading force with ageing players

AFP or licensors
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Real are a fading force with ageing players

We’ve been crying out for more English players to try themselves abroad, with the Bundesliga in particular proving an ideal breeding ground for the younger generations.

Real are a fading super power that need rejuvenating, still reeling from the loss of the irreplaceable Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Sterling could go some way to filling the Ronaldo-shaped hole and is one of only two or three players with a ceiling as high as the Portuguese great’s.

Crucially a new challenge would keep Sterling hungry for more success rather than things potentially turning stale at City.

England’s best player, taking the world’s biggest club back to the top table again.

How good does that sound?