[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e all know that Raheem Sterling has the potential to be a world-class talent, but in the past week, the youngster’s situation has begun to verge on the ridiculous.
The 20-year-old has been in talks with Liverpool over a new contract for months now, but the drama that the negotiation has turned into has reached its peak. With Real Madrid and Bayern Munich reportedly looking to take Raheem Sterling out of England, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, and others trying to use him to their advantage in the Premier League, Sterling has decisions to make.
It has been reported that Sterling has denied a contract offer of over £100,000 per week. In fact, Raheem Sterling himself denied it while giving an unsanctioned interview in which he denied the allegations against him being a “money-grabber.”
While news is spreading and speculation circling regarding a possible punishment for the youngster after revealing his struggle to BBC without the permission of Liverpool, the more important part of this whole issue is the fact that he is turning down big money to stay at a club that groomed him into the player he is, has the capability to develop him even more, and can (barring a drastic change) guarantee him a first team spot. Sometimes younger players have trouble understanding situations and making good decisions, but this is a bit too much.
Raheem Sterling has a great future ahead of him in football, no doubt. The problem is, he doesn’t seem to care. Regardless of what he tells BBC, he is turning down an enormous offer for a player his age, and he could be turning away a club that undoubtedly has the resources and personnel to compete in England and Europe in the coming years. There is still a chance that he agrees to a new contract, and manager Brendan Rodgers has meanwhile maintained that Liverpool will not sell Sterling, but can we really rely on Rodgers’ word here? If a player of Sterling’s caliber wants to leave, which appears to possibly be the case, there isn’t much Liverpool can do to stop him.
One thing Sterling must realize is that, although he’s shown great ability in his few years wearing the red of Liverpool, he is still relatively unproven at the age of 20, and he should think of £100,000 per week as a gift. He must understand that the future is unknown. There happens to be one prominent example of a speedy, young winger who broke into the England team and Arsenal at an absurd age, and was hailed as the next big thing. I’m sorry Theo Walcott, but the truth is you’ve plateaued as a footballer. Walcott is still a solid player (and has even been linked as Sterling’s replacement, should he leave) but he is better utilized as an example for young stars like Sterling: never assume that the future only holds success.
There is no problem with Raheem Sterling and his agent lobbying for a lot of money, as he looks to be a clear-cut star, and business is a large part of the sport. However, the timing of this could not be worse. Rumours always float around the football world, so his name would naturally be linked with other clubs, but to publicly refuse Liverpool’s good offers has only brought a cloud over a club that has been fantastic in 2015, and needs to be good now more than ever. With Arsenal looming on Saturday, and suspensions and possible injuries making Liverpool look thin, it is imperative that Sterling, Rodgers and the rest of the club just forget about this.
If Rodgers is true to his word, and Sterling won’t be sold come summer, then this all becomes an issue then. If both sides just put off all contract talk until the end of the campaign, the issue that has dominated the media will fade for this important stretch, and it can be revisited in the summer.
As for right now, perhaps a fine would suit Sterling well for the unsanctioned interview, but a club-imposed suspension from the team would leave absolutely no proven attackers left – if Daniel Sturridge isn’t fit to face Arsenal. Between the two negotiating sides, the whole issue of the contract needs to be forgotten if Liverpool are to make the final push for the top four.
It is every Liverpool supporters hope that Sterling can perform at his highest level, and not allow the contract talks to get into his head on the field. It is also important that his teammates don’t have any ill will towards him, as team chemistry needs to be at its peak as well. If Sterling’s play is hindered by all of the off-field issues, then Liverpool will not only have to worry about his future, but they’ll have to worry about whether or not he is a liability going forward in this campaign.
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