David James says it would be ‘easy’ for Raheem Sterling to stay at Manchester City but insists moves to Real Madrid or Chelsea would not derail his career or harm his World Cup hopes.
Sterling has been a mainstay at the Etihad since his £50m move from Liverpool in 2015, scoring 131 goals in 339 appearances for City.
The 27-year-old won his fourth Premier League title this season, while he has also bagged four EFL Cups and the FA Cup since leaving Anfield.
Sterling’s influence at Manchester City appears to be on the decline, however, and he started the final-day win over Aston Villa and both legs of the Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid on the bench.
His game-time could be impacted further next season after City signed Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and Julian Alvarez from River Plate, while Etihad chiefs have stated at least two more players will be signed this summer.
Sterling now has a big decision to make as he enters the final 12 months of his contract and could decide to leave as Real Madrid and Chelsea consider moves.
Asked if Sterling should join one of the recent European champions or stay at Manchester City, James told GGRecon: ‘The easy answer is, stay at Man City!
‘First of all you’re going to have an opportunity to win trophies. He gets the game time, as I say, with the rotation, Raheem’s one of those 24, 25 league appearance players.
‘You’re going to get enough regular time in a successful side. It’s going to be a little bit congested before the World Cup but within that you’re going to get enough game time, and enough rest I would argue, to be fresher for a World Cup.
‘The Real Madrid one, I don’t know Raheem personally so the answer could quite easily be yes, with regards to his personality and what Real Madrid requires.
‘But the one thing we’ve seen and a lot of the conversation from Paris has been about what a Real Madrid player is, and it’s not just someone who’s skilful who can score a few goals.
‘You basically have to commit yourself to a football club, and everything is beyond the pitch. If you’re not that kind of player, you’re not going to work at Real Madrid.
‘Is Raheem capable of committing and basing himself to being Real Madrid, rather than just playing for the club? If that’s the case, and I like to think the answer is yes, then, go and do it.
‘We talk about big clubs in the world but Real Madrid are up there with the biggest. A lot of people were saying that Real Madrid is the ultimate football club to play for.
‘I know there’s the arguments for Manchester United and Liverpool, but there just seems to be something about Real Madrid that is just slightly different.’
The former England goalkeeper added: ‘With regards to Chelsea, I mean this is a testament to how well Raheem Sterling has done, linking him to Real Madrid and Chelsea; the two massive European champions in recent years.
‘Manchester City, Chelsea, or Real Madrid wouldn’t do Raheem Sterling any harm for playing in the World Cup.
‘You do question, given how soon the World Cup is, and what can happen with a move – like with Manchester to London, for example – there might not be the external adjustment that could affect form.
‘He’s an experienced player so you would like to think that he would handle that. If there is a move and it is to Chelsea or Real Madrid, it shouldn’t be a problem for Raheem.
‘He’s more than capable of doing the performances on the field. It’s a pat on the back for Raheem.’
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