Raheem Sterling will reluctantly consider a move away from Manchester City if he is not given more game time to prove his worth.
The England international has been an integral part of the club's success under Pep Guardiola, helping to win games and trophies on the pitch and being an important member of the dressing room.
However, he has fallen out of favour at the Etihad this year, starting just nine of the last 25 matches in the Premier League and Champions League since the Manchester derby at the beginning of March. Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez kept him out of the team last season, while new £100m signing Jack Grealish has taken his preferred spot on the left since joining in the summer.
Guardiola has insisted that Sterling still has a significant role to play for City, and an unfortunate injury to Ferran Torres could present an opportunity for more minutes, but the 26-year-old needs to be playing regularly and scoring goals to be truly happy.
"I’m not a person that’s going to complain. I’ve not tried to make it a bigger deal than it actually is," he told the FT Business of Sport US Summit.
"I get on with my work, do what I need to do. And I’m just raring to go — playing football matches regularly, score goals regularly.
"From being a young child, football has been the most important thing in my life, my most happiest I should say.
"When I play football that is where I get my happiness from. And of course with family as well but football for me has a special place in my heart. With everything that comes with football, money, being able to do nice things, at the end of the day if football for me is not at a certain standard I’m not really at my happiest.
"If I want my happiness at a certain level I need to be playing football. I need to be scoring goals and enjoying myself."
Sterling has spoken previously about a wish to play abroad at some point in his career, and posed with a Real Madrid shirt draped over a shoulder for a Spanish sports newspaper ahead of City's Champions League knockout game in the Bernabeu in February 2020. Barcelona are one of the major European clubs who are eyeing his current situation with interest.
With an ambition to become the best player that he can, the Blues forward would consider a change if it becomes clear that City cannot offer him the game time that he needs to thrive. With under two years remaining on his contract, the club also have to make a decision soon.
"If there was the opportunity to go somewhere else for more game time I would be open to it at this moment in time," he said.
"As I said, football is the most important thing to me — challenges that I have set myself from a young age and dreams as well.
"As an English player all I know is the Premier League and I’ve always thought you know maybe one day I’d love to play abroad to see how I would come up against that challenge."