Saturday 1 October 2016

Ian Rush: Liverpool just can't afford to become a selling club

Ian Rush

Published 23/05/2015 | 02:30

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard acknowledges the crowd as he walks on the pitch after his final game at Anfield (Reuters / Carl Recine)
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard acknowledges the crowd as he walks on the pitch after his final game at Anfield (Reuters / Carl Recine)

Fernando Torres. Javier Mascherano. Xabi Alonso. Luis Suarez. Steven Gerrard. And now Raheem Sterling?

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Liverpool can't let it happen. They are dead right to dig their heels in and insist he sees out his contract.

What message would it send out to our fans and everyone else if we just gave in and let him go? It'd suggest we are in danger of becoming a selling club.

And that can't happen. We are too big. We have too much history. We have too many fans. We're a club that needs to build up our squad, not one that allows others to try and deconstruct it.

That's is why this saga and next season are so pivotal to our immediate future. We have had an indifferent season and it is clear that we cannot keep falling behind.

Missing out on the Champions League means we are missing out on big prize-money. That will affect our budgets and doesn't provide us with the carrot you often need to bring players to the club.

I don't think it's affecting Sterling. I know the kid and like him. He's a lovely lad and I don't believe for one minute that the stuff coming out in the press is being driven by Raheem. It is his agent's work.

So I was glad Liverpool pulled out of the talks. It was the club's way of saying, 'we have some clout too'.

And we do. Sterling's future is best served here, not elsewhere.

No other manager would have given him a break at the start of this season when fatigue kicked in. They'd have focused on their short-term needs, not on Sterling's long-term development.

Brendan Rodgers has always been able to see the bigger picture. He knows Sterling is still developing and knows the kid needs time.

But, by the same token, there will be plenty of Liverpool supporters who will hold the view that if Sterling wants to go then the club should let him leave. No player, no manager, no person is bigger than the club.

And I can understand why some supporters would heckle him at the club player of the year awards.

SOUL

Supporters will always be the soul of any football club. They would never consider changing allegiance. Nor can they understand why a player might.

My instinct is he will stay. He will look at the fact Rodgers has shown so much faith in him and has helped nurture him into a superb young player.

He will inevitably get better. In time he could easily become an Anfield great. His name could belong in the same bracket as John Barnes'. What he needs is patience and new signings.

Which is why this summer is so crucial. As a club we have to invest wisely. We should go for Christian Benteke and convince Raheem that he is the perfect strike partner for him - a latter-day version of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen.

We should look to Holland and remember the great players who emerged from that league, all the way back to Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten, through to the '90s and the great, young Ajax team who won the '95 Champions League.

You look at the players who have won their young player of the year award - Denis Bergkamp in '90, Marc Overmars in '92, Clarence Seedorf in '93 and '94, Patrick Kluivert a year later, Mark van Bommel in '99, Rafael van der Vaart in '01, Robin van Persie in '02, then Arjen Robben, a two-time winner before Wesley Sneijder.

In recent years, Suarez, Jan Vertonghen, Wilfried Bony and Daley Blind have claimed their player of the year award. And the point is this - the Eredivisie has for some considerable time been a producer of talent.

We should shop there. Value can be found there. Now with foreign investments, an element of risk is at stake. If you get 50pc of your signings right then you are doing well. Southampton, this year, got a 75pc hit-rate.

We're at the stage, though, where we have to get it right. Next year is a big one - as important as any in the club's recent history.

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