LONDON • Raheem Sterling has denied that he "threw a sicknote in" during his final days as a Liverpool player to force through his move to Manchester City.
The winger was said to be unsettled at Anfield after two failed bids by City and missed two days of Liverpool pre-season training at Melwood earlier this month, which was widely seen as an attempt to force Liverpool's hand to sell. But Sterling has now insisted that he stayed at home on doctor's orders.
"Everyone thought I threw a sick note in," he told the Manchester Evening News. "I was in training on Tuesday. In the changing room, my stomach started hurting. I still went out and trained though.
"That day I went home, and I told the doc I was ill. My stomach was rumbling and I had diarrhoea. The doctor just said to me, 'You can't be around the other players.' For the next 48 hours, I stayed at home.
"Everyone tries to make it seem bad but you've just got to take it on the chin. I didn't really want to add more fuel to the fire, so I didn't comment on it."
Sterling completed his £49 million (S$104.6 million) move to City last week to become the most expensive British player of all time, signing a five-year contract believed to be worth around £200,000 a week.
He is set to make his debut for his new club today, when City play Roma in the International Champions Cup in Melbourne, part of their Australia pre-season tour.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini said it was important for his marquee signing, whom he rates as "one of the best attacking players in world football", to get some playing time for his new club ahead of the new English Premier League season next month.
He said: "He played against us for the last two seasons but I think that it is important for him to try to have some minutes with our team as soon as he can.
"I know the way he has played at Liverpool. It's different, of course, when he's working with our squad, but he's a very young player with a lot of ambition and for me that's very important."
Yesterday, Liverpool downed Adelaide United 2-0 to win both their pre-season games in Australia.
The goals were scored by England midfielder James Milner and fellow new recruit Danny Ings.
Ings showed he has the mettle to star for Liverpool, after they added another striker to their front line - Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, who signed for £32.5 million.
Benteke, 24, is Brendan Rodgers' seventh signing of the close season. But he will not join his new team-mates for the final stage of their tour, when they play a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE