Raheem Sterling is one of the brightest prospects for the future of English football but at the tender age of 20, does the Liverpool star have too much power?
Sterling has been offered an “incredible” contract from the Reds thought to be around £100,000 a week, after the winger rejected a £70,000 a week offer at the beginning of the season.
Talks have been ongoing between Liverpool and Sterling’s agent, Aidy Ward, since October time and the latest offer seems to have settled negotiations. The winger is currently on £35,000 per week - a low sum for someone of his ability.
Can you blame him?
Brendan Rodgers said: “The club has offered an incredible deal for a young player. [But] if they get too much, too young then it really sabotages their development.
“It is very important for young players, not just Raheem, that they have something to strive for. If they are given sound advice they will see that. It is about mapping out the career of a player. It is not just about this deal.”
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However, when it is understood that Glen Johnson is earning £110,000 per week, you can understand Sterling’s frustration.
Sterling has received a lot of publicity since breaking onto the scene, most notably for his tiredness complaint during England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in which he was benched for the game against Estonia.
However, at least 'Sleepy Sterling' can see the lighter side of the situation.
He also received a lot of attention for going on a mid-season holiday in January - something Rodgers said “was the right thing to do for Raheem” at the time.
Sterling took a trip to Jamaica after a hectic year involving mass transfer speculation with supposed interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world. Both Real Madrid and Chelsea were said to be monitoring the youngster - something which he struggled to take, resulting in a dip of form.
No problem with the big stage
However, Sterling is still having a fairly impressive season and he is Liverpool’s joint top goalscorer alongside Steven Gerrard with nine goals in all competitions. He has also created 53 chances this season leading to his five assists so far.
Sterling is clearly capable of performing on the big stage and has already played in a World Cup and the Champions League - impressing in both competitions. However, due to the strength of the top four in the Premier League, it is doubtful whether Liverpool will make it into the European slots anytime soon.
The winger is unique in his talents and is a great threat going forward. When he picks up the ball and runs at a defender, it is a thing of beauty. Sterling has electrifying pace to glide past his man and when you consider the pace he travels at, his touch is remarkable.
“In Raheem’s case, we believe this will be the best place for him and I believe he knows that as well,” said Rodgers.
As he gains more experience, the Liverpool star is becoming more confident and his decision making is improving. Instead of panicking and picking the wrong pass, Sterling is learning to wait for the right ball to use his vision and play the pass.
This whole saga may not be the only time the Liverpool boss will have to face the issue as upcoming star Jordan Ibe - who was given a start in the Merseyside Derby last weekend - will be in the spotlight soon and contract talks will arise.
Rodgers added: “I have spoken to Raheem a number of times and he is very happy here and I think you see that in his game. What he has been granted here is an opportunity - we see it with lots of young players - and they get rewarded for that.
“But we are certainly not a club who are going to give out way, way above what a player is worth at a certain time in a career.”
The future is looking bright
By the look of things, it is Sterling’s agent who is pushing for the increased wage package for his client but it must be said that he has been instrumental for club and country over the past year or so.
In any other profession, if someone is turning down £70,000 a week, you would think they were mad. However, football is in a world of its own and Sterling is one of the hottest prospects in the country.
Sterling should sign a new contract at Liverpool as Rodgers can offer him valuable guidance on and off the field which can turn him into one of the best players in the world - if he is not there already.