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Premier League champions Chelsea are set to battle Arsenal for the signature of Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling next year.
The England international struggled for regular game time in the second half last season after the January arrival of Gabriel Jesus and Pep Guardiola further bolstered his ranks this summer as the arrival of Bernando Silva is set to further hinder Sterling’s first team chances.
While it may be all too soon to judge, the winger was left out of the starting line-up in City’s opening two league games this season.
Towards the end of the window, some reports had indicated that Sterling had been offered to Arsenal as part of City’s bid for Alexis Sanchez or whether the Gunners had asked for the winger as part of any deal.
City however maintain that Sterling remains an integral part of Guardiola’s plans, with sporting director Txiki Begiristain apparently reinforcing that message personally.
The Telegraph reports that the Premier League top sides believe that the 22-year-old would eventually become a casualty of the Spaniard’s recruiting next year and seek a move away from the Etihad, when City finally land key target Alexis Sanchez.
However, it would come down a two-horse race between Arsenal and Chelsea if Sterling were made available by City in the next 12 months.
The Gunners are expected to make further enquiries about Sterling again in the New Year if City make a new bid to try to sign Sanchez in the January transfer window.
City would not sell to Manchester United, while the player could not return to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur could not afford his transfer fee or wages.
With the expected loss Sanchez coupled with the lack of a replacement for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wenger must ensure he comes out top in the London battle to sign Sterling.