After one of the most prolonged and tedious transfer sagas in recent British footballing history, it is finally over and been put to bed. With the player getting his way. Shocker. In arguably the biggest transfer of the summer transfer window so far, Raheem Sterling has moved from Merseyside outfit Liverpool to Manchester City in a £44m deal, which an additional £5m on conditional add-ons within his contract, potentially raising the fee to an incredible £49m, making him by far the most expensive Englishman in history. The previous record holder of this was Andy Carroll, who moved to Liverpool from Newcastle on January deadline day of 2011. Brought in to replace the departing Fernando Torres, who had left the club to join Chelsea in a record £50m deal. Unfortunately Carroll didn’t reach the heights expected of him and was subsequently flogged off to London club West Ham. But before Carroll the record belonged to Rio Ferdinand who controversially moved from Leeds United to arch rivals Manchester United for an immense fee of £30m and was worth every single penny winning 6 Premier Leagues and a Champions League title with the club amongst other honours. Now that Raheem Sterling has the £49m price tag bearing down upon his shoulders for the rest of his days the question arises; is he really worth £49m or is he just the newest victim of the English media over hype bandwagon?
The whole Sterling fiasco began when Raheem rejected a reported £70,000 contract from Merseyside side Liverpool in December of 2014 and then later rejected an incredible £100,000 a week at the turn of the year before an ill-advised interview conducted by the BBC with Sterling regarding his ongoing contract episode, in which he stated he was not ‘a money-grabbing 20-year-old, a label which he was given by angry Liverpool fans. The situation was not helped further by the England international’s agent Aidy Ward, who said that his client wouldn’t sign a new contract with Liverpool even if he was offered an utterly obscene amount of money such as £900,000 a week by the club. Throughout the whole second half of the season the English winger was abused and jeered by Liverpool fans constantly, both from the stands and on social media, being called a mercenary as well as selfish. Whilst the season and the contract dispute dragged on, the former QPR academy player was linked to a whole host of top-class clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester City and even Manchester United rather strangely. He was also linked with European giants and champions Real Madrid, amid reports that Gareth Bale was growing rather unhappy in Spain’s capital due to his own personal form as well as being abused by the Madridistas, who even went to the extreme measures of vandalising his car whilst driving out of the Bernabeu. Despite all this heat and controversy surrounding him, the Jamaican born England international had one of his best seasons in terms of numbers, registering 11 goals and 10 assists in all competitions. Putting aside the off the field problems and antics of taking a break in the middle of the season to visit Jamaica, Raheem Sterling was one of the bright sparks in Liverpool’s rather flat and underwhelming and was played in a variety of positions such as a right and left winger, centre attacking midfielder, striker and even as a right wing-back, which failed miserably. In the early parts of the summer, Raheem was heavily linked with a move to league rival Manchester City, who then in fact tabled a £30m bid for the Englishman which was rejected by Liverpool and week later Liverpool rejected another bid from City, this time in the excess of £40m, Liverpool citing they value Sterling at whopping £50 million. A fee was later agreed between the two teams and Raheem Sterling went on to become a Cityzen, also becoming Manchester City’s record signing in the process. Following the news of the deal being struck and the confirmation of the actual materialisation of the move, Raheem and his girlfriend received a ton of rage-induced abuse on social media, some ‘fans’ even went to the extent of exposing Sterling’s phone number, prompting the England star to thousands of abusive texts and phone calls. Football should never succumb to this invasion of privacy and abuse. Our beautiful game can have such an ugly side sometimes.
Upon joining Manchester City Sterling gave the obligatory ‘I’m so happy to join and I can’t wait to get started’ interview, his first public interview since the ill-fated BBC interview from a few months prior. In his first interview as a City player, he spoke about the world-class players and talents they have at their disposal and indeed they do, so that begs the question, where does Sterling actually fit in? First thing is to decide what is he best position? His rise as a player came as a right-winger, tricky and skilful, he can prove to worthy adversary for even the most seasoned of defenders. Another position in which Sterling excels in is as an attacking midfielder, behind the main forwards. The England international is capable to drop his shoulder and drive to go on a mazy run from the midfield which is ideal in a dead boring game which needs a bit of inspiration, a problem City had quite a few times last season. I’m not even going to entertain the notion of him being a wing-back so he could also be a striker or have a false nine role as a City player, a position which played in due to Sturridge’s glass body. This seems highly unlikely as Aguero is arguably one of the best strikers on the planet and will is virtually impossible to displace him. Logically, it makes most sense for him to slot in on the right hand side as Jesus Navas couldn’t cross in Tic-Tac-Toe and maybe the arrival of Raheem will help step up the Spainard’s game. I personally believe centre attacking mid is Sterling’s best position as even though he isn’t as good as David Silva in the hole, he offers something which City have lacked in the midfield for the longest time; pace. All of City’s midfielders are good on the ball but the only pace in the team is offered by Navas and Aguero and the introduction of Sterling would be a vital compound to revitalize City’s virtually static midfield. And to the people who seriously believe Sterling will be a bench warmer are seriously lacking a few brain cells. What kind of Manchester club pays £50m for a bench warmer? Oh wait. All kidding aside, Sterling is immediately one of City’s best players upon joining and will find it no problem to make it into the City team and leave his mark.
I personally think Raheem Sterling will succeed at Manchester City and will be worth the money the club have paid for his services. They know they’re not buying a £50m player, they’re buying his potential and as a Golden Boy recipient, we all know the talent is there, it’s just the matter of when and if it blossoms. He will not be another Jack Rodwell or more comparably Scott Sinclair, who’ve both been shipped out to lower quality teams. Sterling has not been brought in purely on the basis of being there just to fill the English player quota requirement, he is a serious talent and can rival the best of the best for years to come and hopefully can drive England to more successful times.