Would Raheem Sterling still be a Liverpool player today if Jurgen Klopp had replaced Brendan Rodgers as manager several months earlier in 2015?
Sterling completed a controversial £49 million transfer from Anfield to Manchester City in July 2015 when he was just 20 years old.
Liverpool were desperate to keep hold of Sterling but the gifted English winger felt it was in his best interests to leave the Reds at that moment in time.
In 129 first-team appearances for the Merseyside outfit, Sterling scored 23 goals and went agonisingly close to winning the 2013-14 Premier League title alongside the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard.
Rodgers was, of course, the manager of the Liverpool team that fell marginally short that season.
When Rodgers gave Sterling a dressing down in training
The Northern Irish manager’s relationship with Sterling didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts following his arrival from Swansea City in the summer of 2012.
During a pre-season tour of North America, Rodgers was filmed giving Sterling, aged 17 at the time, a dressing down in front of his teammates.
The training ground incident was caught on camera by the makers of the now infamous ‘Being: Liverpool’ documentary.
Addressing the team’s young players, Rodgers said: “Now I need you to pay attention. Your attitude you need to improve, in your work. You need to improve your attitude…”
Rodgers heard a comment from Sterling, pointed his finger in the teenager’s direction and snapped: “You say ‘steady’ to me again when I say something to you, you’ll be on the first plane back.”
Sterling attempted to protest his innocence but Rodgers wasn’t having it.
“You know what you said, I know what you said,” the Liverpool boss responded. “You’ll be on the first plane back.”
As the players were dismissed, Rodgers added: “Sterling. You know what you said. You said ‘steady’.”
Watch the clip here:
'It gave people the wrong impression about Raheem'
Former Liverpool defender Ryan McLaughlin, who was part of Liverpool’s pre-season squad that summer, shed more light on the incident.
“He didn’t want us having fancy cars or designer washbags. He would always tell us: ‘Just because you’re training with Liverpool, it doesn’t mean you play for Liverpool’.
“Raheem was already a big name and everyone knew he was destined for great things. Brendan thought Raheem answered him back and didn’t want to be seen as a pushover.
“I don’t think he needed to do that to get our respect as he had it already."
McLaughlin added: “It maybe gave some people the wrong impression about Raheem because he’s such a nice fella, so down to earth.
“Raheem was adamant he had said ‘he stepped on my toe’ after feeling like he should have had a free-kick, but Brendan heard it as him saying ‘steady’.
“If you got the better of a senior player in those sessions they would look to put you in your place. Raheem used to get kicked a lot because he was so quick. It was only when training stopped that day that we realised there was an issue.”
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