Barcelona have made the loan signing of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling a priority in the winter transfer window, according to reports.
Sterling has lost out on being an undisputed starter under Pep Guardiola and fallen out of favour in the side, forcing him to often settle for a place on the bench.
As a result, Sport have claimed that Sterling is even open to making the move to the Nou Camp in an attempt to play more first-team minutes.
Revealing the sensational story on their front page this morning, the publication opted for the headline ‘Sterling Option’, alongside a picture of the player.
They have also said that Barcelona were working on wrapping up a loan swoop this summer, although this ultimately fell through with Sterling staying at City.
But they are unlikely to give up the chase, and the LaLiga club may, as indicated by the recent reports, move back in for him in just a matter of months.
Sterling has featured prominently for City over his five-year stint so far, but found himself missing out on a spot in the starting XI over the final months of last season.
The likes of £100million man Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden may be ahead of him in the pecking order, although boss Guardiola heavily rotates.
After enjoying a superb campaign with England at Euro 2020, Sterling was handed a start against Tottenham in City’s Premier League opener.
Since then, though, he has not started any other matches, despite once again catching the eye for the Three Lions over the recent World Cup qualifiers.
A loan to Barcelona appears the likeliest move, because the club are unlikely to be able to broker a permanent move in light of their dire financial situation.
President Joan Laporta hit out at the ‘lies’ of his predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu last month, and pinned the blame on him for the ‘very worrying’ plight.
He also admitted that Barcelona, at the time of his comments, held a ‘negative net worth of €451m’ (£384m) and a debt that totals £1.15billion.
Even after the departure of Lionel Messi, they still struggled to register their new signings, and may need City to compromise to bring Sterling across to Spain.
Sterling has made 297 competitive appearances for City overall, scoring 72 goals and picking up 49 assists.
Sportsmail reported back in May that City were open to offers for Sterling, and that he headed a list of players they would be prepared to sell.
But the club also planned to discuss a new contract with the 26-year-old after the European Championship, with City calm about the situation.
As of yet, however, there has been no agreement, and Sterling’s current terms have less than two years before they run down.
Meanwhile, Guardiola has hailed the impact of the winger, and believes there is more to come from him this season.
‘Do you know how many incredible successes we had in the last seasons, yeah? Impossible without Raheem. He’s such an important player,’ he said.
‘But I am here to tell them. He reached an incredible high standard and I have to tell him this is the standard we need, for you, for all of us.
‘And I’m pretty sure he will get it. If he’s able to do it, he will do it. And I’m so optimistic that he will do a great season.’