Friday 28 October 2016

Off the Ball: Sterling's desperation to pack his bags could cost him dear

Star would cash in with bumper deal next year, so ill-advised exit strategy highlights Reds' decline

Ger Gilroy

Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30

Raheem Sterling has been badly advised – he should stay at Liverpool for another 12 months to maximise his earning potential REUTERS
Raheem Sterling has been badly advised – he should stay at Liverpool for another 12 months to maximise his earning potential REUTERS

So Raheem Sterling will tell Liverpool he wants to move, according to the weekend leaks. Perhaps it's a double-bluff. Though maybe Raheem genuinely just wants Champions League football and medals, given he knows that he'll be rich no matter what.

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Perhaps it's just an agent's negotiating tactic and Sterling wants to become a Liverpool legend and this is to light a fire under the transfer committee's collective rear-ends.

Whatever the rationale for leaking this information now, it's hard to understand the desire of a footballer (or his agent) to tie himself to a new contract this summer when he could easily become a free agent and negotiate one of the biggest deals in football history in just 12 months' time.

Suddenly I find myself agreeing that perhaps he's not being very well advised. Generally, it has been former players complaining about the agent's manoeuvres saying Sterling needed better advice. If he leaves this summer, it's clear he needs someone else guiding his career.

The trouble with football is that very strange decisions get made and repeated, with owners and football directors apparently unaware of that clichéd definition of insanity being to repeat the same actions and expect different results.

That's why Sterling will get paid way more than what's on the table now. There is an arms race on at certain clubs and Sterling's profile as a young English player guarantees that those clubs will be interested. That starts an auction and that inflates the available deal.

Jordan Henderson's recent Liverpool deal guaranteed him earnings of £26m over five seasons. With transfer fees of £30-50mn being bandied about for Sterling this summer, shouldn't the forward wait and seek to pocket a portion of that cash plus at least the salary being paid to Henderson? That's the least he can expect.

For Liverpool, the issues are fairly straightforward: do they cash in now and move on, or try to use Sterling to drive the team to the Champions League?

Given how terrible their recent track record in the transfer market is, that's not as obvious a decision as it appears.

If Rodgers survives the end of season, then this is his last chance. If I were Brendan Rodgers, I'd say keep him and let's try to qualify. I'd also want to fire whoever signed Balotelli.

As for Sterling, well he'd better be ready for the attacks from the former Liverpool players who want him to stay, but who didn't care when QPR fans wondered about the player's loyalty when he upgraded them for Anfield.

There's another upgrade on the cards and another reminder of how far Liverpool are from their heyday. What goes around. . .

Irish Independent

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