As per the Telegraph, the Gunners are ‘ready to explore’ a deal for the 27-year-old at the end of the season, with the Englishman potentially set to be available to depart the Etihad as he enters the final year of his existing deal.
The report suggests that Arteta – who previously worked under Pep Guardiola at City – wants to make the 74-cap international the ‘focal point’ of his attack, with forward additions seemingly required with Alexandre Lacazette nearing the end of his current deal and with former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having departed for Barcelona in January.
Sterling – who had been linked with an exit last summer – could well be joined in north London by current teammate Gabriel Jesus, following recent reports that the Brazilian is another player on the radar of the Emirates outfit.
The addition of the £76.5m-rated man in the upcoming window would prove a major coup for the top-four hopefuls, with the pacy wide man having emerged as one of the top-flight’s leading figures in recent years.
After dazzling as a teenager at Liverpool, Sterling made the controversial £49m switch to Manchester in 2015 in pursuit of silverware, with that move more than paying off as he has since claimed three league titles, five League Cup’s and an FA Cup – with an additional Premier League crown potentially on the way this season.
Under the tutelage of Guardiola, the £300k-per-week gem has developed into a prolific presence in front of goal, having scored 130 times and provided 93 assists in 337 games for the club in all competitions.
Dubbed a “fighter” by Gareth Southgate, the diminutive speedster has also shaken off early criticism at international level to become one of Southgate’s trusted lieutenants, the Jamaica-born ace starring in the Three Lions’ surge to the Euro 2020 final last year, netting three times en route to the showpiece.
It has proven a difficult campaign at club level since then, as he has drifted in and out of the starting XI, although he has still managed to provide 12 goals and four assists in just 22 league starts.
Despite starting 11 more top-flight games than his compatriot, current Arsenal man Bukayo Saka has still scored fewer goals (11 in total) than the more senior man, while he only averages a goal every 248 minutes this season, compared to a goal every 167 minutes for Sterling.
The latter – who Guardiola insisted “always creates something” – also averages 1.8 successful dribbles per game, compared to 1.1 for Saka, while he also ranks in the top 4% for progressive passes received among players in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, with his international colleague only in the top 31% for the same metric.
Equally, the City star offers perhaps greater consistency at the elite level, having been a regular fixture in the top-flight since making his Reds debut as a 17-year-old a decade ago, with it some feat to have maintained his quality for so long.
Saka has dazzled in recent times, although he still has a way to go to reach the heights of the potential target.