Raheem Sterling: Six reasons why have Manchester City paid £49m for him?
Plenty of people are deeply puzzled about Raheem Sterling's transfer to Manchester City.
Most of the bafflement is over the price Manchester City have paid for their new winger. It's £49m. That, by anyone's standards - with the possible exception of the 1% of the 1% of the 1% who have lots of delicious oil in the United Arab Emirates - is a lot of money. There's been some outrage:
Can we all just take a moment: Hazard £32M, aguero £35M, Neymar £49M. How on god's green earth is sterling worth a penny over 6??— Steven cheetham (@Cheets18) June 25, 2015
Hazard £32M Costa £32M Alexis £35M Mata £37M Aguero £35M Ozil £42.5M Neymar £49M Sterling for £50M? Let that sink in...— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) June 18, 2015
Raheem Sterling 2014-15 = too tired to play for England, adamant to leave Liverpool, not turning up for training = £49m move to Man City— Ian Abrahams (Moose) (@BroadcastMoose) July 12, 2015
£49m used to get you Zinedine Zidane, now it gets you Raheem Sterling. pic.twitter.com/BQ6LtEwumh— Football Funnys (@FootballFunnys) July 13, 2015
"Just think of how many Southampton players I can sign with £49m!" pic.twitter.com/aB2tNvaZLs— TheSPORTbible (@TSBible) July 12, 2015
There are also a number of things worth considering which begin to make that price a little bit more understandable. Let's try to work out why Raheem Sterling costs £49m, and why Manchester City are happy to pay it.
1. City are desparate for homegrown players
Let's look at Manchester City's current squad:
Lots of lovely diverse flags, there. But down three crosses of St George from this time last year, after the depatures this summer of James Milner, Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards.
Not to worry, though. This is a cosmopolitan league which loves diversity and embraces all corners of the footballing world!
But... Because England are so rubbish, the Premier League is discussing radical new FA rules concerning the number homegrown players in every squad.
The proposed new regulations mean that every Premier League team is going to need at least 12 homegrown players in their 25-man Premier League squad by 2020.
They don't necessarilly have to be English, but they do need to have been at an English club from the age of 15 upwards.
These FA proposals are unlikely to be waved through unchallenged by the Premier League, and we're obviously still quite a way from the year 2020.
But there is will from the Premier League to at least partially address its falling number of homegrown players, and City are woefully short of them at the moment.
Raheem Sterling is one of depressingly small handful of top-tier homegrown talent.
That, and his youth, mean City were quite willing to pay an extraordinary amount of money for his services. And why the stories linking them with a similarly large offer for Jack "well homegrown, me" Wilshere refuse to go away.
2. The English premium
English players cost more. That is an established fact. Remember?
Raheem Sterling is English. Remember?
It's possibly a viscious circle of there not being many good English players which drives up the prices of those who are. It could just be a byproduct of a broken footballing nation's rabid and unstoppable hype machine distorting everything. Maybe English players are just really, really good and should cost way more than their foreign equivalents who just happen to look far, far better.
Whatever the reason, you can bet that Sterling's nationality added at least £10m to the price City paid for him.
3. QPR get a huge cut
Thanks to some unusually sensible forward planning, QPR negotiated a 20% sell-on clause when Liverpool poached Sterling from them as a 15-year-old.
Again, you can add a significant chunk on to the fee because of this. Liverpool know they're only getting £32m if they sell Sterling for £40m. Yes, poor them.
But they'll bank a far more pleasing £39.2m for flogging Sterling at the price they have done. That extra £7m could be enough to sign the next Andriy Voronin...
4. Because City can
City being rich isn't big news, but Financial Fair Play was supposed to put a stop to them being able to spend absolutely appalling amounts of money.
£49m is a depressingly small amount of money when you've got hundreds of billions of pounds. It also renders any Uefa fines a quaint irrelevance.
5. The new TV deal is going to alter everything
This is but the beginning of the era of absolutely staggering transfer fee paid by British clubs.
With the team that finishes bottom of next season's Premier League taking home a reasonably tasty £99m, top tier English clubs are going to be able to spend at a rate that's unthinkable to anyone other than Real Madrid and Barcelona.
City's TV cut will be far closer to the £150m prize the winners of the Premier League will take home.
That will mean more enormous fees paid for seemingly over-valued players, and, elsewhere in the league, more odd sights like the one presented in the picture below these words.
6. City believe he'll be worth it
Sure, Sterling wasn't too hot for long periods of last season, but maybe Manchester City see a talented young player who, with appropriate coaching, could be a significant asset to them for 10 years. £49m won't look too stupid if Sterling is still contributing in 2025.
His game is some composure and consistency away from being deeply frightening to every top-level defence. It's not a popular opinion today, but is it really that crazy to think that Raheem Sterling might just be worth £49m?