Raheem Sterling: Set to Move on From Liverpool
On hearing the news of the latest twist in the Raheem Sterling contract saga, the range of reactions from person to person would have been huge, and it’d be a struggle to find two people with matching responses.
For the ill-informed, the young winger has stated that he feels like he is being ‘bullied’ into signing a new contract with Liverpool. I’m no expert but I imagine there are worse forms of bullying than being offered £100,000 a week to play for a club many people can’t even afford to watch.
Therein lays the first reason I’d be happy to see the back of Raheem – his influence. Difficult as it may be to grasp the idea, the Liverpool dressing room is currently being led on a dance by a 21-year old. This issue is only going to be magnified when the presence of Steven Gerrard is removed; in the days of Carragher, Hyppia, Alonso, and the like, I imagine young players may have had second thoughts about holding the club to ransom. This is why Sterling’s influence on the players around him could quickly escalate into a serious issue – just imagine what Coutinho, Ibe and other young players are thinking as they watch this unfold.
Speaking of Coutinho, it is worth pointing out that he has been the best player at Liverpool this season, and whilst I’m not suggesting Sterling will never surpass him, this campaign has highlighted how far ahead the Brazillian is. It was always a criticism the pair shared that they could not shoot with any particular threat – Coutinho’s taken huge strides towards adding goals to his game this year, whilst Sterling (who has played upfront this year in places) has still struggled. Although the Englishman has scored more, it is clear that he needs the conditions to be right in order to do so; of all his goals I cannot recall one that he fashioned for himself. So, when/if Sterling makes his way away from Merseyside, the void he will be leaving may not be so great after all.
To consolidate this idea, it’s worth remembering the players who haven’t featured so much on account of Sterling’s inclusion in more and more games. Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana are prime examples: with the latter playing more recently and the former seemingly playing less and less in recent weeks, it’s safe to say neither has got consistent game time at any point this year. Now, look back to a time when they did get regular time on the pitch: Lallana coming 3rd in the PFA Player of the Year, and Lazar Markovic was earning a reputation as one of Europe’s best at his age. I anticipate both getting more appearances in the coming years, particularly if Sterling gets his way and departs, earning big money wherever he goes.
And that’s the next point: money. If FSG were to offer a contract to Sterling’s liking, it would more than likely have to fall in the £150-200,000 a week mark, a sum previously only offered to Luis Suarez, and even then that contract ended 6 months in. Plus Suarez was the best player in the league, arguably the world at the time. Now, it’s worth looking at some of the players Sterling would be ‘out-earning’ should he get that contract: he’d instantly surpass the Bayern Munich trio of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm, and Manuel Neuer. Of course I’m not saying Liverpool could now attract these players with the wages that would have been given to Sterling, but the money saved could well be put towards tying down the key players at the club – not that there are many left.
The fact that Sterling leaving would leave Liverpool with very few top names at the club is another reason I wouldn’t be all that against him leaving: he’s going to be one of the best, and Liverpool simply are not. Although I would suggest he’s jumping ship far too early, I would maintain that he is a player who deserves to have a career abundant with trophies and awards; accolades I think (however painful it is to think) he could not achieve with Liverpool. So, to summerise this: Raheem deserves better than a club which is clumsily stumbling its way into mid table mediocrity.
So, whilst across the world of football the views on Sterling will be varied and undecided, my mind is made up that he should be off, for the good of himself and also to some extent the club. Additionally, I think it should be noted that should he play against Stoke on the last day of the season, Rodgers may well gain a lot more enemies. In conclusion, I believe Sterling has risen above his station and his attitude has been a disgrace to all young players working their way up through the game, and so with that and the reasons detailed previously, it is probably best he leaves.
Only question left is where? I’d advise Raheem to go wherever the subs bench is more comfortable.