Barcelona appear set to be leading the race to sign Raheem Sterling, with Manchester City reportedly unwilling to sell him back to Liverpool.

According to a report by Catalan outlet El Nacional, Barcelona have been handed a major boost in pursuit of Raheem Sterling. The 26-year-old will not be allowed to join a Premier League rival club by Manchester City, effectively ruling Liverpool out of the running, with Camp Nou his likeliest destination.

Raheem Sterling joined Manchester City from Liverpool in a controversial move in the summer of 2015. Since then, the 26-year-old has come a long way, establishing himself as one of the most enterprising forwards on show in the Premier League while also being a pivotal figure for the English national side.

However, the last couple of seasons have been quite forgettable for Sterling, who has started 2021/22 poorly as well. The English international has started just five of the 14 games that Manchester City have played this season while garnering a paltry tally of one goal and two assists. However, that has done nothing to detract his suitors, with Barcelona and Liverpool interested.

Barcelona are in need of multiple reinforcements at the moment, having fallen off a cliff since the departure of Lionel Messi. The attacking unit does appear to be in need of goals amid their increasing reliance on Memphis Depay and Ansu Fati. So while Sergino Dest has impressed as a right-winger, the need to sign an attacking player is evident.

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To that end, Sterling is a viable target for Barcelona, who are reportedly prioritising a January move for the 26-year-old. However, the Blaugrana have been facing stiff competition from Liverpool in pursuit of Sterling, as per recent reports.

The interest from Liverpool is a bit surprising considering the emotions during his departure to Manchester City. However, purely from a sporting perspective, the versatile nature of Sterling’s gameplay makes him a viable target for the Reds, as he can be utilised centrally or out wide by Jurgen Klopp.

Having said that, Manchester City have no intention of selling Sterling to a direct rival, effectively ruling Liverpool out of the running for his signature. With one less competitor for the Englishman, it looks like Barcelona could be the favourites to land him, although it remains to be seen if they do make their move to prise him away from the Etihad.

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