When Luis Suarez spent a summer sending public love letters to Real Madrid via the Uruguayan press, the Spanish powerhouse made remained eerily silent in reply. Two years later, the opposite is happening as Zinedine Zidane shared very public thoughts about Raheem Sterling, who hasn't yet spoken about ambitions to move to any specific continental power but whose contract negotiations don't inspire confidence that he's not thinking about it.
"We know who Raheem Sterling is, and of course we are monitoring him as a player," said the manager of Real Madrid's B team. "There are very few players in the world who can improve the Real Madrid squad, so it is going to make sense we monitor the progress of the best young players in the world. We monitored [Gareth] Bale for over a year, the same with Isco and also [Raphaël] Varane.
"We monitor many of the best young players in Europe, then if we feel they have something to offer Real Madrid we will contact their club and try and make the next step."
Zidane is stating the obvious, but that probably won't comfort many Liverpool fans. Real Madrid likely have a very long list of players they're watching, and while Sterling is likely to be closer to the top of the list than the bottom, having your name appear on a list is certainly no guarantee that a club will eventually seek out your services.
Still, this is the first confirmation that at least one continental super club has an eye on Sterling, and it's something the player and his agent could easily use in their contract negotiations at the end of the season. They might also want to heed Zidane's own words; very few players can improve the reigning European champions' team, and they might want to get clarification on whether Sterling is one of them or whether they see him as a squad player.