The Liverpool – Raheem Sterling saga has finally come to an end, and of course it would be headline making. Sterling has made it known he wasn’t happy on Merseyside for some time, and after two bids in June were rejected, BBC Sport is reporting that Sterling has been transferred to title rivals Manchester City.
The 20-year-old England international will also covet a reported £49 million ($76.3 million USD) transfer fee, a record for any English player in the history of the game. With the move, Sterling gets his wish and Liverpool get rid of a major distraction as they attempt to regroup from a 2014-15 season that was seen in many circles as a failure.
Sterling made things even more interesting in the last month or so, choosing to show up or not to offseason training sessions and threatening publicly to skip Liverpool’s trip to the Far East.
On the eve of Liverpool’s Far East trip, Sterling was mysteriously ill and then shockingly included in the Liverpool contingent heading to Thailand, Australia and Malaysia, but was then withdrawn quickly.
Now we know why, as Liverpool get a huge reward for a headache gone. Sterling was arguably the most popular player with the fans heading in to the 2014-15 season, but as summer approached many grew tired of his antics on the training ground.
He even drew rebuke from Reds legend Steven Gerrard, a former teammate who has made his own move to the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.
“You don’t have to throw in illness, or refuse to go on tour,” LA Galaxy midfielder Gerrard added. “The fans have shown him great support, they want him to stay and I believe that he should too.”
Sterling’s career has been promising early on, with him breaking through as a 19-year-old in the 2013-14 season. That year he put in nine goals and five assists in 33 matches for the Reds, but his production declined sharply in 2014-15. Last season Sterling was much more of a known quantity and often Liverpool’s only real attacking option, and it showed as he finished with just seven goals in 35 matches.
Many have him not only rated as the most valuable young English player, but the most valuable young player in Europe. He’ll join another top three prospect in Dutch international Memphis Depay on a retooled Man City squad looking to get back the EPL title it lost to Chelsea this past season.
The question now becomes what Liverpool does with the money it gained. Clearly Sterling’s departure leaves a massive gap in attack and the Reds. Liverpool have now put all its hopes on the big time addition of Roberto Firmino from German side Hoffenheim. He could help in many ways, but the question is if Firmino can be the out-and-out striking attack that Sterling was.
Liverpool aren’t likely done on the transfer market, so look for another attacking option to be a priority for Brendan Rodgers’ side in the next month or so.
UPDATE: Jamie Carragher tweeted a very good point. Liverpool now has this money, they need to not repeat some of the bad buying decisions they have made in the past.
I wish Lfc bought players as well as they sold them!!
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) July 12, 2015