Silly season in full swing: Is Raheem Sterling really heading to Chelsea?

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With just a week to go until the transfer window slams shut, expect all kinds of rumors to gather steam as the January window concludes.

One man who continues to be linked with a move away from his current club is Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling.

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The 20-year-old starlet has now been linked with a return to west London, where he started his career with QPR, as Chelsea are said to be interested in bringing the England international to Stamford Bridge. Fresh reports elsewhere suggest that Real Madrid are lining up a $40 million bid for Sterling this summer as the speculation about his future continues.

According to the Guardian, Sterling’s lack of urgency to sign a new deal at Anfield is getting the attention of Chelsea who believe they could nab the speedy winger and offer him a lucrative salary and regular action in the UEFA Champions League, which is something Liverpool cannot. In Liverpool’s recent 1-1 draw at home against Chelsea in the League Cup semifinal, Sterling ripped open the Blues’ defense to score the equalizer as he showed Jose Mourinho and Co. exactly what he’s capable of.

Sterling’s current contract negotiations with Liverpool have been going on for over six months and the youngster is said to have been unimpressed by the Reds’ opening offer of $110,000 per week. Sterling’s current deal with Liverpool runs out in 2017 and Brendan Rodgers is desperate for him to sign a new deal so (and believes that will happen rather imminently despite this speculation) the youngster can continue to lead their charge back towards the top four of the Premier League.

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Although Liverpool would be hugely reluctant to sell their top talent to Chelsea, if Sterling’s contract situation drags on any longer then it may be a case of cashing in on their prized asset when they can. As Sterling’s agent continues to haggle over the new contract for his client, it’s interesting that rumors about Chelsea being an option for the England international have started to surface.

Are the Blues being used to boost Sterling’s potential earning at Liverpool or is their a chance the young winger could arrive? A transfer fee now or in the summer would likely be upwards of $40-50 million, but if Sterling continues to stall until this time next year on a new deal, Liverpool may have to settle for less. Sterling holds the power in this situation and if the youngster continues his rapid ascension towards the top of the game, he may think twice about joining a perennial PL title challenge who can all but guarantee playing in the Champions League. Even if he ends up signing a new at Liverpool in the n ear future, that notion should be food for thought.