When it comes to football, Raheem Sterling’s main concern is the legacy he will leave when he hangs up his boots.
The Manchester City attacker has already made a significant difference in the game off the field by speaking out against racial inequality, vital trailblazing work for which he has been awarded an MBE by the Queen. Sterling, on the other hand, wants to be recognized as one of the all-time greats for his accomplishments with the ball in his hands.
The 27-year-old is already well on his way to accomplishing his goals, having won four Premier League championships in five years as one of the most vital cogs in a Pep Guardiola machine that is becoming considered as one of the finest ever seen in English and world football. The finest, on the other hand, are never satisfied with what they have accomplished because they can always look ahead to what they could do in the future.
With a year left on his current City contract, he must decide whether to stay at the Etihad — which is likely to be the biggest deal he will sign for the remainder of his career given his age — or seek a new challenge this summer. After Kylian Mbappe’s unexpected snub, Real Madrid is looking for a superstar once more, while other European heavyweights are keeping a careful eye on the situation.
While Sterling hasn’t ruled out a few English clubs, he has previously expressed interest in playing abroad, and it’s easy to see why (aside from the weather): few English players have played in a foreign league, so Sterling’s career would stand out even more if he were to shine at a top European club.
At the same time, he has history with City and England to look forward to, which may encourage him to stay in Manchester. The forward has always been focused on personal milestones; he is proud that Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi are the only other players to have scored 100 Premier League goals under Guardiola, and after scoring his 100th goal this season, he said that becoming one of the competition’s top scorers was “something that I was obsessed with as a kid.”
The chance to make City history looms large on the horizon: Sterling is five assists away from being the first player to score 100 goals and assist 100 times in all competitions. He would undoubtedly go down in history as the first player to do this in the Premier League era, and considering the haziness and inconsistency of counting assists in the past, he might well be clear in the all-time lists.
Sterling will eventually select the option that motivates him the most out of the ones open to him this summer, with the most crucial factors being his role in the project and the number of games and key games he will start. One of the driving forces behind it, though, is a desire to write his name in the history books, and the opportunity to do so at City is surely on his mind.