With reports emerging that Raheem Sterling has put his Southport home on the market, Henry Jackson looks at how much his potential move away from Liverpool will affect the club.
According to the Daily Mail, the 20-year-old is looking to sell his Merseyside mansion, as further doubts surround his Anfield future.
The report claims that “Liverpool are still hopeful of persuading the attacker to sign a new five-year deal, and are preparing for the next round of discussions” – but it’s hard to feel enthusiastic about the situation.
Chelsea and Arsenal on alert as Sterling prepares to sell up and begin London property search http://t.co/jZ8jKKotOH pic.twitter.com/10c6HKsxTI
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 12, 2015
Sterling’s exit has felt more and more likely by the week, ever since his ill-judged interview with the BBC last month, and it may well be that he is approaching his final two games for Liverpool.
Former player Phil Thompson expects Sterling to leave the club this summer. “I think it will be very difficult for him to stay at Liverpool now,” says Thompson. “He’s shown all the signs that he’s ready and prepared to leave the club.
When it comes to discussing how much of a loss he would be, there is a wide range of opinion from Reds fans across the globe. It’s hard to see many positives though.
Perhaps some views on Sterling have been swayed because of his seemingly greedy behaviour regarding his contract, but the fact of the matter is that Liverpool have a very special footballer in their ranks.
It’s sometimes very easy to forget that the speedy attacker is just 20 years of age. The progress he has made over the last 18 months or so has been impressive.
In 2013/14, he was arguably Liverpool’s standout player between January and May, and played a massive role in Brendan Rodgers’ side’s surge to second place in the Premier League.
Goal involvement per game from debut to 20 yrs old:
— Joseph Cousins (@JCuzzy1) April 18, 2015
Everyone points towards the brilliance of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, and understandably so, but both actually tailed off a little towards the end of the campaign. It was Sterling who often delivered at crucial times, most notably against Norwich and Man City.
Despite some below-par performances in recent times this season, Sterling still has the joint-most goals and assists combined for the Reds, alongside Jordan Henderson.
It will be an absolute body blow to Liverpool should Sterling leave, and with City, Chelsea and Arsenal all reportedly keeping a close eye on him, it would only further damage the Reds’ increasing reputation as a club who can’t keep hold of their stars.
Not only would selling Sterling mean Liverpool were losing arguably their most prized asset, along with Philippe Coutinho, but it would once again make them look weak in the transfer market.
Their struggles with signing top players have been much-publicised of late, and what sort of message would it give to potential new purchases if they saw Sterling was leaving? And what about his equally talented teammates?
Who’s to say Coutinho wouldn’t have his head turned at some point in the summer? What if Bayern Munich suddenly showed an interest in Emre Can?
If we let Raheem Sterling leave then it is further evidence that the current management has no ambition whatsoever. #LFC
— BetGOAT (@BetGoatUK) May 11, 2015
Top players are attracted to ambition and the potential to win trophies, and if Liverpool are too willing to let star names leave, it gives off a very negative vibe.
Suarez was allowed to leave too easily last summer, given his contract situation at the time, and it feels like the same will happen with Sterling.
There will be some who argue that it’s pointless keeping players who don’t want to play for the club, which is a fair argument, but selling Sterling to a fellow Premier League rival would be scandalous.
If you are an admirer of Sterling as a player- it seems baffling that any Liverpool fan wouldn’t be, in truth- it’s hard to find any positives in him moving on, but the fee they would receive for him would surely be the only plus point.
The England international is one of Europe’s most sought-after youngsters, highlighted by his prestigious Golden Boy triumph in December, and would likely cost a minimum of £50million.
Given Liverpool’s reported limited budget this summer, and the need to strengthen the squad greatly, the Sterling funds would at least free up Rodgers’ spending significantly.
Would bringing in four or five players all worth in the region of £10million benefit the club more than keeping Sterling? It’s debatable, but the all-round effects of losing the Englishman still makes it more important to keep him.
It’s fair to say that Sterling isn’t exactly the most popular Reds player right now, given his extortionate wage demands and failure to commit his future to the club.
That shouldn’t cloud peoples judgements when it comes to assessing both his importance to the team and vast potential though.
The 20-year-old has the ability to become one of the best attacking players in world football, and is someone who could take on the mantle as Liverpool’s long-term talisman once Steven Gerrard moves on.
Too many of his detractors seem to think his current raw talent will never mature, but assuming serious injury is avoided, his finishing, decision-making and consistency will all progress greatly in the coming years.
It feels depressingly likely that we are going to be saying goodbye to Sterling at the end of the season, which is a massive blow to Liverpool. He’s now being underrated by some.