Time was, many moons ago, that a player would stay with their club forever. Well, until retirement that is.
Over time it became the norm for clubs to grow their own players and sell them for profit, to reinvest back into the club. It was a successful business plan.
It was an unsaid and unmentioned arrangement between all at the club. The supporters knew it, the players knew it, the board knew it and the manager knew it. It was all a flawless arrangement, until it wasn't.
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The recent transfer of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool to Man City highlights the end of this era, which in all honesty began years ago and has continued. And it probably always will.
Sterling has faced questions of loyalty for the second time in his career. Quite a feat considering he is just 20 and is already at his third professional club.
No more loyalty
He transferred from Liverpool to QPR aged just 15; at the time even his most ardent fans raised concerns about how a player so young could leave the club that has nurtured him, given him a precious schooling in football for a perceived 'mega club' like Liverpool.
Five years later, Liverpool fans have the same questions.
The question fans always ask is a simple one: why has the player left so soon when he needs to stay and learn his trade? And the answer is now becoming simple, too.
Loyalty is no longer from a player to the club, but more accurately it is between a player and his ambitions; in other words loyalty has been replaced by quality.
Sterling has his reasons
It can be argued that with Champions League football, Sterling will be able to compete once again (and perhaps more consistently) at the highest level.
In addition to this, the facilities at the Etihad are considered to be of a higher quality, further enhancing the opportunity of improving as a player.
Sterling is not a typical of a player leaving to enhance their career. Many have done so before and many others will. Yet football seems to be the last bastion where loyalty to a club is a prerequisite, leaving for a rival of any kind is simply not accepted. Yet things are changing and will continue to change, and we as fans need to accept that.
Taking everything into consideration, loyalty will always be admired, revered, respected and adored. Yet every aspect of quality will win out.
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