Manchester United may have received a big boost in their reported pursuit of Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling this summer, with news emerging that the 20-year-old is open to making the controversial switch to Old Trafford.
Real Madrid’s 2015/16 lineup with four Premier League signings, including Liverpool, Arsenal & Man Utd raids
Ten best Champions League finals, featuring Liverpool & Manchester United classics
Raheem Sterling hides from transfer talk in Dubai
Sterling has been linked with a whole host of top clubs this summer, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also reported as being in the frame after the England international surprisingly turned down a £100,000 per week contract at Anfield.
Supposedly, the former Queens Park Rangers youngster is ready to become the first player to move from Liverpool to United since 1938, with working under Louis van Gaal said to be a major attraction as he considers the next move in his career, according to an extensive report in the Guardian.
The Guardian adds that City and Real’s interest could see a three-way bidding war between the clubs for the Reds contract rebel, whose versatility in attack appeals to van Gaal as he considers improving his front-line for next season.
A move for a player like Sterling, who can play in almost any position in a front three and even as a number ten behind the main centre forward, makes sense for United after the departure of failed loan signing Radamel Falcao, as well as the disappointing form of Angel Di Maria in attacking midfield in 2014/15.
Sterling scored eight goals and laid on eight assists for his team-mates in the season just past, and did so playing in a wide variety of roles – even filling in as a wing-back in Brendan Rodgers’ side – though he fared best when used centrally, playing eleven times as a striker, scoring three goals in that time. He also played three times as a central attacking midfielder, scoring twice and with a rating of 7.36. In a further 26 appearances playing either wide left, right or as a wing-back, Sterling managed just two goals and six assists.
These numbers perhaps suggest van Gaal would want to use Sterling as his main striker next season, with Robin van Persie’s role as a regular starter also likely to diminish after a disappointing season from the Dutchman, who managed just ten strikes in all competitions and who struggled with several injuries. At the age of 31, it is perhaps not unwise to think the former Arsenal man may not ever get back to peak form, making Sterling a perfect long-term replacement up front.