Where next for Raheem Sterling? Barcelona, Liverpool, Spurs, Newcastle...

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling is now working his way up Newcastle's shopping list. Will he really move to the north east in January?

Though thriving for England, Raheem Sterling is starting to look a little lost at the Etihad.

He is slipping down the pecking order at Manchester City and has made just two starts this season. Firstly the Spanish media believed a deal for a switch to Barcelona was close, and Sterling himself has added to the speculation by admitting he is considering his future at City.

Speaking at the FT Business of Sport US summit, Sterling said: "I'm not a person that's going to complain. I've not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is. I get on with my work, do what I need to do, and I'm just raring to go. (Ready to be) playing football matches regularly. Scoring goals regularly.

"If there was the option to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it … As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I've always thought: 'You know, maybe one day I'd love to play abroad and see how I would come up against that challenge."

Now the Newcastle circus has rolled into town, Sterling has suddenly leapt in the market to move to the now richest club in the world.

After the feeble display against Spurs on Sunday, we are not sure why anyone would really want to jump into the relegation battle on Tyneside. Perhaps Sterling really likes a challenge.

If City do decide to let Sterling go in the next transfer window, it is bound to spark attention from other clubs. So what lies ahead for England star? We take a look at some possibilities and the bookies odds for his next club.

Newcastle

Financier Amanda Staveley acknowledges Newcastle United fans

Of course Newcastle are going to be linked with anyone and everyone, and especially quality players who are sitting on the bench.

The Magpies were bought by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and on paper, they are now the wealthiest owners in world soccer. Due to Mike Ashley's reluctance to spend big over the years, Newcastle are expecting to splash the cash in January without being sanctioned.

However, while they could offer the England star all the money in the world to join, would a big name international like Sterling be keen on a relegation scrap?

I wouldn't be surprised if a Newcastle fan was already mulling over whether a Sterling tattoo would go nicely next to the Andy Cole one.

Barcelona

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman

A month ago, it seems pretty unlikely that Barcelona would be making any big-money signings for a while. Even signing for a new delivery of balls seemed like a stretch.

When you have Lionel Messi already on your books and he is begging to stay, and you have agreed a deal with him, yet you have to let him walk away because you can't afford it, that's a pretty solid indicator your finances are not in the best of shape.

And yet reports in the Spanish media state that Barcelona do have the money to meet Sterling's wage demands, which won't be cheap.

Perhaps a loan-to-buy offer is the most likely, but that doesn't strike you as the kind of thing a great club like Barcelona should be doing. That's seems more the realm of messrs Sullivan and Gold at West Ham.

Barcelona certainly need someone of Sterling's quality; currently sitting in ninth and fans baying for Koeman's blood. Things aren't rosy at Camp Nou.

Spurs

Sterling was reportedly offered to Spurs as part of a deal for England captain Harry Kane, although nothing came of it in the summer.

That was more to do with Tottenham's desire to keep Kane than them not wanting Sterling, though, who must surely be a head-turner for any Premier League side.

Jamaica-born Sterling is an adopted Londoner and grew up in the shadow of Wembley Stadium, so a move back to the capital would probably appeal.

One major stumbling block may be Spurs' infamous refusal to mess with their wage structure. Sterling reportedly earns £200,000 per week at Man City, and that is likely to be unworkable for Tottenham.

Liverpool

Raheem Sterling made his breakthrough at Liverpool before a big-money move to Manchester City. He made a big impression at Anfield and they didn't want to lose him.

A return there would appear to fit on many levels, although there would appear to be big obstacles at the same time too.

Would Man City want to sell to a title rival, for one? Would Liverpool want Sterling back after he essentially forced his way out of the club before?

There is little doubt that Liverpool need, or will soon need, to freshen up their attack though, and Sterling could do that for them without any drop in pedigree.

But how deep do the scars of his departure in 2015 run?

Chelsea

Raheem Sterling was linked to Chelsea before joining Manchester City

Another option for a return to London would be Chelsea, although that one feels less likely.

That's not to say it isn't necessarily less likely, but it's harder to imagine.

Again, the question of whether Man City would be willing to sell to a Premier League rival has to be addressed, although there are questions at the Chelsea end too.

The Blues have spent a lot of money on buying and developing younger players in Sterling's position, so why would they spend big on a player who would essentially be in the way of that talent coming through?

Real Madrid

In years gone by, English players have only gone to Real Madrid when they were at the very peak of their powers.

The likes of Steve McManaman, David Beckham and Michael Owen were highly coveted and had outgrown their current clubs to a large extent when they made the move to the Spanish capital.

That is not the case with Sterling. Granted, internationally he has never been more prominent, but in terms of club soccer he is arguably less important than he ever has been before to Man City.

That probably illustrates the shifting sands of financial powers in world soccer than anything else, and the bottom line is that Madrid could afford Sterling and attract him, so it looks like a more viable option than most.

MLS

MLS has developed a huge amount in the last few years to the point where they are attracting some genuinely top-class names.

It is easily conceivable that Sterling could join that list, although if he does you can't really see it being any time soon.

At 26 years old, Sterling is unlikely to see his immediate future away from Europe, and he surely harbours ambitions to win the Champions League.

Moving to MLS now would cost Sterling too much in terms of his career goals. While it's far from impossible, the sense is that if Sterling's next club is a MLS one, then he will have had to have signed a new deal with Man City before then.

West Ham

Sterling's London roots may still play a huge part in his next move, and West Ham seem like they are big movers right now.

They had a fine season last year and look capable of backing that up again in 2021/22, and there is an understandable feel-good factor around the Hammers right now.

There is also a potential takeover looming, and if that brings big investment with it, they may find themselves in a position to make a play for Sterling.

Don't place West Ham among the favourites, but don't rule them out either.

QPR

Queens Park Rangers were Sterling's first club having joined them as a 10-year-old, although he moved to Liverpool to make his name.

It seems highly unlikely that Sterling would return to west London anytime soon, simply because QPR are not in a position to make the deal happen.

Still, you never know, and certainly stranger things have happened.

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