What is all this nonsense about Liverpool trying to extend the contract of a player who still has over two years to run on it? What is the rush? Why is everyone panicking? Why am I even writing about it?
Brendan Rodgers has got himself in a sticky situation over the prolonged contract talks with Raheem Sterling. The moment they were made public, Liverpool's fate was sealed: they would be handing over a lot more money than they ever expected. They haven't yet, but they will.
Sterling's current deal was signed in in 2012 and will keep him at the club until 2017. However, so incredible has his rise to prominence been that Liverpool are well aware of the potential trouble that lies ahead. There are sharks out there, sharks with wallets as big as their teeth. They'll be tempting Sterling soon; they're even tempting him now.
By locking him down for the rest of the decade, they secure the services of one of the world's hottest prospects. If not, they at least guarantee a huge transfer fee if and when he agitates his way out of the club.
But Sterling has the mother of all hardballers for an agent. It is no surprise these talks were made public as soon as the two parties came together, it is no surprise Sterling has held off until after the new Premier League TV rights deal was announced and it is no surprise he is asking for a wage rise of over 400 per cent (£30,000-a-week to £130,000-a-week).
Sterling has earned it
Rodgers can criticise his representatives all he wants, but they are not the only ones to be pushing up the price but It is easy to forget that Sterling's hard work has earned him a substantial pay rise.
He is on the brink of global recognition and he wants his wage to represent that. If his current development continues he will be one of the world's best by the end of his current contract and courting the interest of the world's richest clubs, most of which will be Liverpool's direct Premier League rivals.
Negotiating over Sterling's demands is playing with a fire that can grow and grow. Sterling holds all the trump cards in this game and the longer it goes on for the more chance they have of losing their next talisman; their next Steven Gerrard.
Luckily, Liverpool don't have to look far to realise how devastating a mistake like the one they're threatening to make can be. Manchester United allowed Paul Pogba to leave the club and join Juventus. All he wanted was more first team football, while a higher wage offer would have done wonders to convince him to stay.
How much would Manchester United be willing to pay to get Pogba back now? £100 million, maybe, with a huge wage packet to boot. Whether they buy him back or not, it will end up being Sir Alex Ferguson's most costly error.
It is also similar to Arsenal's contract rangle with Theo Walcott. Things got serious there. Walcott ran into the last six months of his deal before Arsene Wenger finally stumped up the £100,000-a-week. Having recently lost Robin van Persie it is unlikely Arsenal fans would have ever forgiven him had their stuttering prodigy left on a free. Eventually, the Gunners officials realised they were being backed into a corner and the longer talks went on, the higher the eventual bill became.
The going rate
Sterling will be better than Walcott; much better in fact. Liverpool will be richer than Arsenal were; much richer. When the new Sky & BT Sport deal comes in, £130,000-a-week will be the going rate for the better-than-average player - the Adam Lallanas of the world.
Sterling is not Lallana. He is a special talent capable of reaching the lofty heights of Pogba. Liverpool is the best place for him to do that, but he wants the money in advance of doing it. Having paid Luis Suarez £200,000-a-week, the owner is clearly happy to pay top dollar for top talent.
Here they have to trust the Sterling is determined enough to make his way up there with the money already in his back pocket. Whether he is or he isn't, the risks of not giving him what he wants are far too great.
Do you think Raheem Sterling deserves £130,000-a-week or is Brendan Rodgers right to offer less? Liverpool fans - please let us know what you think in the comments box below!
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