There weren't many highlights for England at the World Cup. Eliminated within five days of first kicking a ball competitively on Brazilian soil, they will fly home after their final group match against Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Raheem Sterling's performance in the opener against Italy did receive some plaudits, though—with one Italian national particularly impressed.
That Italian being Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has been credited by The Sun on Sunday, per The Mirror, with an interest in the flying Liverpool youngster.
Of course, Sterling's display against the Azzurri will have helped, but it would be ignorant to imagine Ancelotti and Madrid's transfer policy is that black and white.
The former AC Milan, Chelsea and PSG boss has been monitoring the 19-year-old's progress for a while and has been watching with interest how he has developed at Anfield over the past six months.
And while he has not been impressed enough to move the earth to sign him this summer, the report speculates he will make a move for the England international next summer, should he thrill in the Champions League with Liverpool next season.
Sterling initially burst onto the scene in England as a winger, but it is more centrally where there have been calls for him to feature for his country.
It was there where he was most exciting in that 2-1 defeat against Italy, playing a significant role in his side's equaliser.
Writing in The Guardian, Barney Ronay was suitably impressed:
"Chosen in his best position behind the central striker, Raheem Sterling gave a fine, nimble-footed display in the first hour and beyond, not just of driving speed and quick-footed dribbling but of measured passing and vision with and without the ball."
And it is centrally, as opposed to on the flanks, where Fichajes, per The Mirror, suggest Ancelotti wants Sterling, saying he will act as an eventual replacement for Angel di Maria.
There is no doubt that, still just a teenager, Sterling possesses great ability, but dragging him away from his comfort zone at Liverpool, where he is playing and exciting regularly, doesn't seem like the best idea at the moment.
Ancelotti is right to delay making a decision on him until 2015.
But could he be Madrid-ready in a year?
It's difficult to say. After his initial explosion, his career stalled slightly before reigniting recently; it's just as likely he could stall again as it is he will continue to improve.
Of course, the longer Ancelotti waits, the more expensive Sterling could get, but he is right to keep Florentino Perez's money tucked away for now—replacing Di Maria, after the Argentina international's radiant season, with Sterling would be a gamble of high amounts.
Poking his nose into the situation won't do him any harm, though. It lets Sterling know he's interested and puts Madrid in a good position should the player's ascent continue.
In summary, Ancelotti's hit the nail on the head.
Sterling is not the man to grace the Bernabeu yet, but by laying the groundwork, Ancelotti has now planted the seed in Sterling's mind, and, if he does become one of the world's best, he'll know who it was that wanted him first.
And the world's best belong at Real Madrid.
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