Manchester City could have scuppered their bid to convince Raheem Sterling to sign a new contract by offering England’s Euro star as a makeweight for Harry Kane.
Sterling, 26, was open to talks about an extended deal at the Etihad – despite becoming frustrated by his lack of game-time under Pep Guardiola towards the end of the season.
But the winger is angry with City’s attempts to offer him to Tottenham in part-exchange for Kane in a deal that would meet the London club’s £100million-plus valuation of the England captain.
The Premier League champions have included Sterling on a list of players they would be willing to include in a bid to take Kane to the Etihad.
But Spurs have remained steadfast in their stance that their striker will not be a replacement for Sergio Aguero.
Sterling has scored his country’s only two goals of the Euros as Gareth Southgate has guided his team to a last-16 showdown with Germany.
He has two years left on his current £300,000-a-week contract in Manchester.
And after helping City win three titles in four seasons, he was hoping to be rewarded in the same way as Kevin De Bruyne, who signed a £400,000-a-week deal in April.
Sterling’s split with his long-term agent earlier this year meant talks had to be postponed last season.
But Guardiola then turned towards Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez after a spat with Sterling in the Spring.
And City’s stance that the Jamaica-born forward can leave if the price is right has now prompted Sterling to reassess his options.
City’s willingness to cash in on a player who was seen as untouchable just 12 months ago has come as a huge shock.
Sterling now knows that City are looking to protect his value as an asset rather than as someone who is vital to Guardiola’s long-term vision.
City value Sterling at around £80million – but that figure will begin to decline as his clock begins to tick on the final 24 months of his current deal.
Sterling, signed from Liverpool for £49million in 2015, has scored 93 goals for City in the last four years.
But he hit the net just 14 times for the Blues last season as Guardiola reclaimed the title and guided the club to their first Champions League final.
Sterling fell out with his manager after being left on the bench for the win over Southampton in March.
He was then left out of the squad that travelled to Fulham three days later and started just eight of City’s next 15 games.
He was left on the bench for the four Champions League games against Borussia Dortmund and Paris St Germain.
So it was a huge surprise when Guardiola started him in the Champions League Final against Chelsea.
City lost the game 1-0 – prompting their manager to ask the club to secure him a proven replacement for Barcelona-bound Aguero.
Sterling, who was named FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year in 2019, has seen Gareth Southgate keep faith with him.
He has scored the winning goals against Croatia and the Czech Republic to fire England into the last 16, while Kane has struggled.
Sterling has already stated an ambition to play abroad and is resolved that he will only leave City on his own terms.