Raheem Sterling to Real Madrid: Why their last-16 Champions League clash could be an audition ahead of a

Raheem Sterling spoke glowingly about Real Madrid last week and was even pictured with one of their shirts.

Man City are likely to be terrified by the prospect of their star man being courted by one of the powerhouses of European football.

City face the Spanish giants in the Champions League this week in what could be an audition for the England international.

Raheem Sterling has spoken of his admiration for Real Madrid

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Raheem Sterling has spoken of his admiration for Real Madrid

Here at talkSPORT.com, we take a look at why it could happen and how previous British exports have fared.

Why is he being linked to Real Madrid?

Sterling gave an interview with Spanish media outlet AS and spoke a lot about Madrid as uncertainty hangs over his current club’s Champions League participation in the future.

“Right now I’m at City and I’m really happy. But I say Real Madrid are a fantastic club,” Sterling said.

“When you see the white shirt you know exactly what the club stands for, it’s massive.

“But at the same time, I have a contract with City now and I have to respect this. But it’s a fantastic club.

“I think to win the Champions League so many times especially in a row as well is difficult,” Sterling said of Zidane.

Man City and Raheem Sterling will face Real Madrid in the Champions League

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Man City and Raheem Sterling will face Real Madrid in the Champions League

“I don’t think that’s luck, it’s definitely a formula. Some people have that winning mentality and he wins by any means.

“I’d say it’s something he has probably developed over his great career as a player and he’s developing his career as a manager so it continues this winning touch.”

Why should City be worried?

The Champions League could be the big problem for City. At the moment, the Manchester club have been banned from Europe’s elite competition for both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

Raheem Sterling poses with Real Madrid and Manchester City shirts

Raheem Sterling poses with Real Madrid and Manchester City shirts

If City do not win it this season, Sterling would be 28 by the time he would have the chance of lifting the trophy, if they fail in their appeals. In some of the peak years of his career he would be absent from the competition he should be playing in.

There are also some arguments to be made that without Champions League football there is no incentive for him to stay at the club.

He has already won every domestic trophy in England and could be itching to go elsewhere to complete the set.

Even City manager Pep Guardiola admitted they would have a fight on their hands to keep Sterling if Madrid came calling.

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“All the club have to know that when Real Madrid or Barca knock on the door the other clubs must tremble, they will be a little bit in trouble,” Guardiola told reporters.

“Barcelona and Real Madrid are maybe the strongest and most powerful teams in terms of history and how good they are. That is normal and I understand completely.

“But on the same point, you just see the commitment from Raheem, every single day when he arrives. He’s never injured but he’s coming back soon.

“His commitment in every game, offensively and defensively… he’s one of the best players in the world and its normal that big clubs see his desire for the team.

“I don’t know if Madrid or Barcelona have called his agent – I don’t have any doubts about his commitment from the first day to the last day that Raheem and other ones have had and will have until the end.”

Where could he fit in at Real Madrid?

The Spanish giants signed Eden Hazard in a £150million deal from Chelsea last summer so you may think they would not be looking for another Galactico signing in the same position.

Hazard has not been an overwhelming success, though, and suffered a fractured ankle for the second time this season at the weekend.

Zidane would need to find a way of accommodating Sterling into the system with Hazard, which could mean one of them being moved to the right or having to play through the middle.

Gareth Bale is always linked with an exit from Madrid and Sterling could be seen as a direct replacement.

Eden Hazard has got injured again at Real Madrid

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Eden Hazard has got injured again at Real Madrid

How British players have fared at Real Madrid?

The Galactico era saw several British players make the move to the Spanish capital with varying degrees of success.

Steve McManaman was a big hit with Madrid and quickly established himself as a fan favourite by helping them win two LaLigas and two Champions League titles in his four seasons between 1999 and 2003.

David Beckham was an iconic presence at the club despite only winning one major title in four seasons. He was a popular player but also delivered strong performances on the pitch.

Jonathan Woodgate had a disastrous debut for Real Madrid

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Jonathan Woodgate had a disastrous debut for Real Madrid

Jonathan Woodgate had a disastrous time that was plagued by injuries and his debut saw him score an own goal and get sent off.

Michael Owen spent just one season at Madrid, scoring 16 goals, before leaving to Newcastle because he was playing second fiddle to Raul and Ronaldo.

Gareth Bale was a then world-record signing for £85million and his time in the Spanish capital has been mixed.

He’s won many trophies there, including four Champions Leagues and scored some tremendous goals too, but the Bernabeu faithful have never really taken to him.

Should he stay or should he go?

The big dilemma for Sterling is does he show loyalty to Man City, where he has won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and the FA Cup, or does he think about his own career.

Real Madrid would offer him the chance to win the Champions League to add to his collection, especially if City are banned for two seasons, while playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs.

For purely selfish reasons he should take a chance and join the LaLiga club. It would be a loss for the Premier League, and the Manchester club, but it would be great to see Sterling play in a Madrid derby and El Clasico.