Exclusive - Raheem Sterling has told Manchester City that he wants them to sanction a loan move to Barcelona in January.
Despite being one of England's best players during the summer's European Championship, Sterling has been frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities at the Etihad Stadium and has started just three games this season.
The 26-year-old, who has 18 months left on his contract, has been challenged by Pep Guardiola to force his way back into the first team and find his best form - similar to how Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva have enjoyed a resurgence this season - but Sterling does not believe he is in the Spaniard's long-term plans.
Sources close to the club have told 90min that Sterling has gone as far as to inform Guardiola that he would like to join Barcelona - who have shown interest - on an initial loan deal in January, with the allure of playing at Camp Nou too good to turn down.
Guardiola has made it known to City chiefs Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain that he won't be forced into playing anyone, and if Sterling wants out he will sanction the move - though he remained, understandably, coy in his press conference before Saturday's game against Everton when asked about Sterling's future.
"Don’t ask me from now on until the last day of the window about transfers because I’m not going to answer," Guardiola said. "It is not my business and it is not our business - Raheem’s either. Our business is Everton, PSG, West Ham, and the rest.
"I’m not going to answer any questions about what is going to happen in the future because I don't know. And I am not concerned for one second."
City's hierarchy, meanwhile, still see a future for Sterling at the club and they are unsure about letting him leave without a replacement coming in.
One move they could make is for standout Real Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal - one of City's top targets and someone they've followed for a long time - but it may be difficult to persuade them to do business in the January transfer window.
Nevertheless, Sterling will try to push through a move to Barcelona, spurning the advances of PSG, Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid - who have all enquired about his availability - in the process.