ENGLAND forward Raheem Sterling is closing in on a record-breaking £49m transfer to Manchester City after Liverpool withdrew him from their pre-season tour at the last minute.
Sterling had been named in a 30-man party which yesterday departed for Thailand, where the Reds play a friendly against the True Thai Premier League All Stars tomorrow. But the 20-year-old was pulled from the tour, amid blanket reports that City had succeeded with a third bid, believed to be for £44m plus up to £5m in add-ons, for the former Queens Park Rangers youth player.
That fee would make Sterling, who can play across the front three or as a No10, the most expensive English player in history, eclipsing the £35m Liverpool paid Newcastle for Andy Carroll in 2011.
Sterling’s move would bring to an end a bitter saga in which he and his agent Aidy Ward have attracted criticism for their attempts to engineer an exit from Anfield.
He turned down a new contract with Liverpool worth £100,000 a week and failed to report for the first two days of pre-season training last week, citing illness.
Sterling’s move, meanwhile, could be set to hand Queens Park Rangers a £9.8m windfall due to a 20 per cent sell-on clause inserted by the west London club when the forward moved to Liverpool in 2010.