Raheem Sterling’s Manchester City deal almost done

The transfer window’s most protracted saga looks to be at an end after Liverpool reached an agreement with Manchester City which will see Raheem Sterling take Andy Carroll’s tag as the most expensive English footballer.

The wantaway forward was left out of Liverpool’s squad which flew out yesterday for their pre-season tour of Thailand as talks over the big-money switch progressed.

And England international Sterling, who has been at loggerheads with Liverpool since turning down a new contract earlier this year, is now on the verge of completing his move to the Etihad Stadium.

City had already failed with two bids for Sterling this summer, the second reported to be worth £40million, but Liverpool are now understood to have accepted a £49million (€68m) offer.

Assuming the 20-year-old agrees terms with City and passes a medical, his protracted and acrimonious departure from Anfield will finally be sealed.

Relations between Sterling and the club soured in February, when manager Brendan Rodgers claimed the player had been offered “an incredible deal”.

Two months later, Sterling angered the club by confirming, in an unsanctioned interview with the BBC, that he had turned the contract down.

The impasse deepened when Sterling’s agent, Aidy Ward, claimed the player would not sign even for “£900,000 a week”. He became embroiled in fresh controversy after photographs emerged of him appearing to puff on a shisha pipe, and then allegedly inhaling laughing gas.

Sterling missed the start of pre-season training earlier this week, citing illness as he sat out Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions before returning on Friday.

It had been reported that he had asked Rodgers if he could be excused from the pre-season tour, although he was initially named in the squad until yesterday’s developments.

Meanwhile, Stoke City have announced the signing of former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson on an initial two-year contract.

The 30-year-old has flown to Singapore to join his new team-mates on their pre-season tour, pending what the club call “finalising the formalities” of the deal.

Johnson, whose contract includes the option of an extension into a third year, will become the Potters’ sixth signing of the summer.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes told the club’s official website: “Glen will be a fantastic addition to our squad. He commanded a huge transfer fee when he left Portsmouth for Liverpool but dealt with the pressure that comes with that.

“He’s a talented defender who also chips in with goals - as we discovered last season when he scored the winner against us at Anfield - and having spoken to him I know how much he’s looking forward to being a Stoke player.”

With Manchester United set to complete the capture of Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, former United captain Bryan Robson described the German as “top drawer” and a “true leader of men” who can drive the Red Devils back to the top.

Robson, 58, told The Sun: “Schweinsteiger is the kind of player and personality United have been short.

“There is Michael Carrick, of course, who has that same experience and knowledge. When he was not playing last season, we saw that United were not the same team.

“Schweinsteiger is absolutely top drawer and his record and reputation speak for themselves.

Schweinsteiger, who will become the first German to play for United’s first team, will leave behind a sizeable gap in Bayern’s squad by leaving the Allianz Arena.

He has been on the Bavarian club’s books for 17 years and won eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokals and the Champions League with Bayern among other successes.

Bayern defender Philipp Lahm told Sport1 television: “It’s a pity that our paths are now dividing. We’ve been through so much together so it really is a shame.”

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