This might be the wrong time to write this article but summer is coming, and so will the scramble between clubs for players.
Two of those potential transfers will inevitably concern Gareth Bale and Raheem Sterling. Both are in demand, with one more established than the other (established meaning he has been playing at the same or a higher level for a longer amount of time).
Assuming you like football, you don’t need me to tell you who that is. Or do you? The way certain people have gone on you would have thought their respective careers have mirrored each other’s.
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There are many supporting Sterling’s/his agent’s stance, thereby comparing his situation with that of Bale’s two summers ago when the Welshman was on the verge of leaving Tottenham Hotspur. Saying that, as Bale was at Spurs, Sterling is a level above Liverpool and the Europa League.
Although that might be the case however, it does not mean he’s up there with Bale yet, regardless of how bad Bale is perceived to currently be playing at Real Madrid.
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Now, Sterling is well within his rights to take his time deciding whether to sign a new deal with the Reds or keep his options open, but there’s no way he is performing to the same level and having the same impact on his side and the Premier League as a whole as what Bale did for three or so seasons.
Sterling had an average season this campaign, a very good one last time out and an okay one the season before. He’s got quick feet and can get past players with relative ease, but his shooting is still poor whatever level you play at – which has to be an essential part of his game.
Sterling vs Bale
He’s arguably achieved more than what Bale did in his first few seasons as a member of a first-team squad, but by the time Bale left England the Welshman was firmly established as one of the most effective players in the world, hence why Real paid a world-record transfer fee to secure his services. He was 24 at the time, while Sterling is just 20.
Despite the negativity that is currently engulfing him, Bale has been a regular for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and with good reason.
At this moment he has scored 39 goals in 92 appearances for Los Blancos, including two of arguably Real's most important goals last season: the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona and the goal that put his side ahead against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final, which set them on their way to winning 4-1. That's not to mention 18 and nine assists for last season and this season respectively.
Sterling to Real?
If Sterling went to Real this summer he would have nowhere near the same positive impact, mainly because he would be on the bench for much of the time, but also because he rarely troubles a goalkeeper in the throes of an official first-team match. If he was to go there he would have to be near the finished article like Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Figo and the Ronaldo's (both of them).
That’s not to say that the 20-year-old will not achieve in the future what Bale has done so far. He is, as Brendan Rodgers has made clear one of the most exciting youngsters in Europe. Give it another two or three years and Sterling may well be as good, and have as good a record as Bale’s when he left for Spain’s capital in 2013. But he’s really got to sort out his striking and finishing. Using his left foot would be a start.
Quelling the hype
For those who think Sterling is better, or at least as good as Bale, just think back to all those classic moments and world-class strikes that Bale conjured nearly every week; the volley against Stoke City, the outside-the-box whacks against West Ham United and co, the numerous wonders against Norwich City, and who can forget the hat-trick at the San Siro against the then-Champions League holders Inter Milan?
I could go on. Needless to say it’ll be a long while before Sterling can boast such a collection.
Football fans, what do you think? Is Sterling anywhere near as good as Bale yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.