“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.” – A Sobering truth told by Tony Adams.
The rise and rise of Raheem Sterling has been so meteoric that his status seems to still astonish those that have been tasked with developing his career in a manner that allows him to fulfil his undeniable and abundant potential. While Raheem has been playing at the elite level for 3 seasons now, every electric and entertaining performance of his still shows glimpses of deficiencies in his game that underline the fact that he is still in the middle of his developmental phase as a young footballer; we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the lad is currently playing purely off potential and natural gifts without any true understanding of the intricacies that come with playing in his more natural attacking positions and performing the roles required therein while living up to the responsibilities those roles come with on the field.
Most players get remunerated according to their on-field abilities and their financial pull off it as well, yet talented young players are remunerated on a different pay scale completely as the team are investing in the current output of the player and future earnings of their side when the player is concerned; young players get paid according to a formula that combines their level of potential, future value, worth to the side and industry minimum for a wunderkind in the same bracket. The rumoured £ 100 000 p/w that Raheem has been offered by Liverpool may be a marketable upgrade to what that lad currently takes home, yet his current pay packet is a pittance in comparison to what his contribution to the side is in terms of where the club would have been this season without his contribution or the value he added last season alongside a stellar attacking cast that singlehandedly brought Champions League football to Merseyside. All things considered, Raheem is due a pay rise at Liverpool and he was due one at the start of the season when he elevated a slot or three up the Key Player Index and became the talisman of the side and all they seek to represent moving forward. The current figure being branded about would make Raheem one of the most well paid young players in the game, yet he would see himself earning approximately the same as Theo Walcott takes home to be a backup player for Arsenal and Theo is also due an extension at the end of the season which could see him pocket a tad bit more than his current rate as he has dropped down the pecking order and needs to be reassured of his role at the club.
With my player intermediary hat on, I can honestly state that Raheem Sterling is worth far more than the current terms being offered by Liverpool as he would earn at least double that at a number of other clubs across the fraternity if he was to become available or unsettled in Merseyside; with Liverpool losing Steven Gerrard and the increased revenue from the new TV deal coming in, the club should be looking to put their money where their mouths are and show Raheem the type of commitment he requires if he is to become the talisman they intend to build their squad on for the next generation. The financial issue is not just regarding Raheem and his personal bank statement, Liverpool have spent tons of money over the years on players that have had little to no longevity at the club and that open-door transfer policy will have caused some instability within the Sterling camp as they sat down to assess the situation going forward. The lack of quality within the Liverpool side has been a concern since the start of last season and they managed to overachieve with the players they had at their disposal then, this issue was not truly addressed as the club splashed the cash again in the market and somehow ended up worse off than they were last season when they had less to work with.
When Arsenal were losing players left, right and centre just a few years ago, many of their fans refused to believe that their players left them for matters of prestige and also just happened to pick up a larger cheque with their new employers; many of those players left because the level of ambition and drive within the club as an organization did not match their own personal desire and drive to succeed at the elite level, such reasoning could be passed as acceptable in the Sterling case if Liverpool don’t learn from their rivals and steady the boat before their best crewmen jump ship. Raheem has been over relied on for a talented young player who is still developing, the big wigs over at Anfield will have to fork out purposefully this time around if Liverpool want him to step up his level even further and start being the player we know he was born to be and lead the side back to their rightful place alongside Europe’s elite football clubs at the table of champions.
The fact that his gaffer seems uncertain as to where Raheem is most effective as a footballer is also worrisome as the lad needs to start developing in a manner that allows him to play in the position/s that he will become a global star in, Raheem seems to currently serve as that talented youngster that the gaffer cannot leave out and thus has to always find a way to slot in regardless of how the lad performs within that team structure. A talented young lad like Raheem cannot find himself becoming disillusioned with where he has to play and what is expected of him in that position, that lack of understanding has led to many young players never reaching their potential as the pressure begins to get to them when their confidence has been ebbed away by the lack of consistency in performance and playing roles.
The British Talent Tax has increased now that the FA have shown their hand and proposed for more home-grown players in the first team squads of elite level teams, this means that lads like Raheem will cost even more to buy or keep as they are genuinely super talented young British footballers and thus something of a rare commodity in the football fraternity. When Liverpool take all these issues into consideration, they should take their £ 100k p/w contract offer and use those funds to buy out the contracts of players like Fabio Borini who are wastes of money and squad slot allocations before returning with a revised and substantial offer along with the confirmed contracts of a few top class acquisitions in the playing, coaching and management departments if they are serious of getting out of the almost there zone and give themselves a shot at being the real Liverpool again. We have all been looking at this Sterling contract saga as a Raheem Sterling v Liverpool issue but the truth of the matter is that it is a truly universal football matter that could set the benchmark for how talented young players and their intermediaries deal with clubs and vice-versa; Bob’s your (Jamaican Pidgin Uncle) in one way or another, we will all have to live with the outcome of this sterling performers conundrum, whatever it may be.
Full Name: Raheem Shaquille Sterling
DoB: December 8th, 1994 (20)
PoB: Kingston; Jamaica
Caps & Goals: England (14 Caps, 1 Goal); England u/21 (8 Caps, 3 Goals); England u/19 (1 Cap); England u/17 (14 Caps, 3 Goals); England u/16 (7 Caps, 1 Goal)
Position/s: Advanced Playmaker, Inside Forward, Winger, Advanced Forward, Deep-Lying Forward, Poacher
Preferred Foot: Right
Club: Liverpool F.C.
Club Jersey No: #31
Career Club Appearances & Goals: 149 Games, 31 Goals, 35 Assists
Development Academy/s: West Ham United Youth Academy, Queens Park Rangers Youth Academy
Market Value: £ 22 500 000