After months of speculation that began way back when Raheem Sterling refused a large contract offered to him by Liverpool, he – and his agent, Aidy Ward – have finally gotten their desired move to Manchester City.
Sterling had made it clear in the past that his choices about where he plays his football are not oriented around his cash flow, however, Manchester City were the frontrunners for the majority of the transfer saga, and they certainly do not have any funding issues. His contract is reportedly worth £10 million-per-year, and combining a four-year deal with his £49 million transfer fee means that nearly a £100 million was paid for Raheem Sterling.
There are many aspects to the pros and cons of this move, which make it quite a complicated thing to debate. On the one hand, Manchester City are paying this young man £10 million every 12 months – and he has not scored a single goal for his country in a relevant competition.
He has never scored in the UEFA Champions league, even if Liverpool only had six games in this year’s competition. He has not won any personal accolades, and he hasn’t scored ten goals in a season, nor assisted ten goals in one season either. He cannot carry a team on his own, and he certainly cannot lead any team with a half decent squad to any trophies – for now.
Raheem Sterling is still a very young footballer – he was virtually unknown until the early stages of 2013-14, when Brendan Rogers gave him a chance in the first team. He played well for a 19-year-old. Not extremely well, however well enough to remain in the first team for extended periods of time during the campaign.
In 2014-15, Sterling was given much more game time – a star role at Anfield, arguably. He scored seven and assisted seven in 2014-15, not a bad return for a player on the wing, but not necessarily an important statistic. Considering the poor form of other Liverpool forwards, and a long injury for Daniel Sturridge, a player worth £50 million pounds would have seen the weakness in his own squad, and emulated the defence-shifting moves Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez used two seasons ago.
It’s arguable it should not be the expectation of someone who has played as few games as Raheem Sterling to fill that role. However, a manager like Brendan Rodgers – even if his purchases of young players have not panned out extremely well for Liverpool – placed faith in Sterling that he should have taken more advantage of.
There are multiple things the Citizens gain when they buy Raheem Sterling, but in terms of current talent, he is not a smart buy for Manchester City for such a large transfer fee. He is talented, young and English, which means that Manchester City move closer to the Champions League home-grown player quota – a simple task, really – while they add a talent that will become one of their next star players.
They add another option on the right side, or the left side – which doesn't currently have a ton of pace – and even a role alongside the striker. This team will be expected to challenge for both a Premier League title and a UEFA Champions League, so there will be a lot of pressure on Sterling to perform at a level that he has not experienced before.
My question to you is: will Sterling ever be worth £50 million? Excluding all the agent fees, signing bonuses, and weekly wages, Manchester City still pay nearly £50 million up front for a 20-year-old. However, in five years, perhaps we will look back on a team that has won four or five trophies, possibly even a Champions League title.
If that is the case, Sterling will no doubt have grown into a key piece in that side. For the owners of Manchester City, the fee is not an issue as long as the success is achieved. Therefore, should Sterling receive the star role that he needs to grow into a title-winning footballer – rather than just a talented footballer – then he will be worth it. There is every chance of that happening, but as we have seen with English talent in the past (see Andy Carroll and many others) the nurturing needs to be done correctly. Manchester City could have a future world-beater on their hands.