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Raheem Sterling will report back to pre-season training with Liverpool this week with his future still undecided. And while Manchester City are still keen on securing the services of the England international, a move overseas is still not out of the question. So what would be the ideal destination for the highly-rated forward player?
The Liverpool board have a firm bid on the table from the Manchester club but are not interested in selling to a direct rival unless they receive an offer in the region of £50m. There has been talk of a move to Real Madrid and Liverpool may actually be willing to accept a lower offer if the player were to move abroad.
A move to Madrid could be beneficial to both parties as the Merseyside club would not be strengthening a direct rival in the league, and the player would get the opportunity to team up with the Coach who originally took him to Anfield.
Rafael Benitez persuaded the youngster to sign for the reds in February 2010 when he was just 15-years-old. At the time he was a Queens Park Rangers academy player and on the radar of several top Premier League clubs. However, it was the Spanish coach who convinced Sterling and his family that Liverpool was the best place to develop his talents.
Unfortunately, the relationship between Sterling and Benitez was short-lived as ongoing behind-the-scenes turmoil at the club, and a poor finish to the 2009/10 season saw the Spaniard axed from his role in June 2010.
A move to Real Madrid would certainly give the player the high profile role that he craves, and he would also be joining a team that has genuine Champions League pedigree. It would also close the circle on his relationship with Benitez as the pair would finally get the opportunity to work together.
The biggest question is whether Sterling has the ability to walk into a team of Madrid’s quality. Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that the player still has plenty of room to develop and that staying at Liverpool would give him the breathing space to do that.
If he were to move to the Spanish capital, patience is not a luxury that he would be afforded and his performances would be intensely scrutinised from day one. It would certainly pose a challenge for both the player and the new Madrid boss.
Liverpool are due to fly to Thailand on Sunday to begin their pre-season tour and as things stand, Sterling will also be making the journey. It is thought that Brendan Rodgers may try to persuade the 20-year-old to remain at the club where he would be handed a pivotal role next season. However, if City do come in with an improved offer, or if Madrid express further interest, the Reds may be tempted to cash-in.
Looking at things logically, there is a strong case to suggest that the Jamaican-born attacker may be better staying put and developing his game on familiar ground. But if he is determined to move on, then maybe Rafael Benitez would be the right man to help him succeed at the next level.
Written by Neil Morris
Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01
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