LONDON: Anfield rebel Raheem Sterling is close at last to his desired transfer to Manchester City.
England forward Sterling has apparently said goodbye to his Anfield team-mates and did not, despite earlier Liverpool statements, set off with them on an imminent two-week tour of Thailand, Australia and Malaysia.
The 20-year-old had told manager Brendan Rodgers he wanted to be left at home in the hope of a move to City. He missed two days’ training through illness early in the week but then returned for two training sessions at Melwood on Friday and was named in the squad booked on a two-week tour of Thailand, Australia and Malaysia.
Sterling, who has been at loggerheads with Liverpool since turning down a new contract earlier this year, is now on the verge of completing his move to the Etihad Stadium.
City have already failed with two bids for Sterling, the second reported to be worth £40million, this summer, with Liverpool understood to be holding out for nearer £50million.
Assuming the 20-year-old agrees terms with City and passes a medical, his protracted and acrimonious departure from Anfield will finally be sealed.
Sterling has been at loggerheads with the Reds since February, when manager Brendan Rodgers claimed he had been offered “an incredible deal”.
It had been reported that he had asked Rodgers if he could be excused from the pre-season tour, although he was initially named in the squad until Sunday’s developments.
His actions prompted criticism from a host of former Liverpool stars with Steven Gerrard the latest to speak out, the former Anfield skipper revealing he is” not happy with all that carry-on”.
Sterling joined Liverpool from QPR’s academy in 2010 and has made 129 appearances for the club, scoring 23 goals.
He made his senior England debut in 2012 and has scored one international goal in 16 appearances.
Liverpool fly to Bangkok on Sunday ahead of their first friendly against a Thai All Stars side next Tuesday.
If City do secure Sterling one of his first appearances for the Sky Blues could be in Germany. City have added a friendly against Stuttgart on August 1 to their pre-season itinerary, a week before they open their Premier campaign at West Bromwich.
Rodgers is also shuffling his cast in other directions. Former captain Gary McAllister has returned as first-team coach with Sean O’Driscoll the new assistant manager and Dutchman Pepijn Lijnders promoted to first-team development coach. O’Driscoll was prised away from the Football Association where he was England’s under-19s’ coach.