Raheem Sterling is managing talks over his future, but no decision has been made yet, with Chelsea expected to act on their interest once Romelu Lukaku’s loan to Inter Milan has been completed.
Sterling is entering the final year of his Manchester City contract and, at 27, is carefully considering what he believes is the defining stage of his career.
Chelsea have yet to open any formal dialogue with Sterling, who is one of their primary targets.
But the Blues could be set to step up their efforts to sign the England international after reaching an agreement over a loan move for striker Lukaku with Inter, according to Sky in Italy.
Inter will pay a fee of €8m (£6.9m) plus add ons, with the move being subject to a medical.
Sterling feels he has not reached his ceiling and can still elevate his game, which can only be achieved if he is viewed as a decisive contributor in the starting XI – especially in the context of the biggest matches.
That status has receded at City, but deep mutual respect remains between the player and the club. He has respectfully asked for time to fully assess what kind of role he holds in Pep Guardiola’s plans moving forward.
Sterling is desperate to make a significant contribution wherever he plays and has been honest that he does not want a bit-part function and thrives on being given responsibility on and off the pitch.
Talks with City have been very professional and cordial, and it is understood that the club will not stand in his way if he chooses to move on and they receive an appropriate fee.
Thomas Tuchel is an admirer of Sterling, who represents an upgrade on many of his current options in the final third and possesses tactical dexterity.
Sterling could cure Chelsea’s scoring issues, having posted double figures in the Premier League in each of his last five seasons. He has proven to be a creative force too, first at Liverpool and then City, directly contributing a combined 165 goals in the division in 320 appearances for both.
Chelsea are not alone in monitoring Sterling, with Real Madrid and Barcelona checking on his situation. Bayern Munich had considered him as an alternative to Sadio Mane, with Julian Nagelsmann publicly declaring his appreciation of the multi-functional forward previously.
Chelsea are using the Senegal international’s £35.1m switch from Liverpool to the Allianz Arena as a guide for Sterling’s potential fee but City will demand more – upwards of £50m – as he is much younger than Mane and an intra-league premium to a rival will apply.
A compromise of around £45m has been loosely floated should Chelsea solidify their pursuit.
Sterling will not ponder any potential transfer until formal talks occur and he has a handle on what guarantees he will have from a football perspective.
It is a fundamental reason he is conducting all meetings himself. Sterling does not want to exit a winning machine like City in search of greater minutes and significance only to sit on the bench elsewhere.
The four-time title winner is certain he can be a crucial cog for a club in lifting more silverware moving forward and is keen on helping to develop younger players.
Chelsea are also considering Ousmane Dembele and Christopher Nkunku, with other options seemingly out of reach. Robert Lewandowski is set to join Barcelona while Arsenal are “cautiously optimistic” of signing Gabriel Jesus from City.
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