Having been named the European Golden Boy owing largely to his performances in 2013/14 when Liverpool came within a whisker of winning the league for the first time in 24 years, Raheem Sterling now wants out of the club whom he thinks can no longer match his ambitions, or indeed his exorbitant wage demands.
Sterling’s agent recently came out with comments berating Jamie Carragher and insisting that his client won’t sign a new deal come what may. Not only was it highly unprofessional, it prompted Liverpool to cancel talks with the player and his agent and as FSG have shown in the past, they won’t be yield into the demands of a player if he wants to leave.
However, Liverpool finished 6th this season as a result of which they will begin next season in the group stages of the Europa League. They will miss out on a lot of players as a result and even though James Milner is an astute signing, especially since it is a free transfer, such deals are hard to come by. Having come close to winning the league just over a year back, the Merseyside club will face an uphill task just to reach the Champions League again as a result of which it’s star players would seek greener pastures sooner rather than later.
Since it is unlikely that an Italian club will come in for him, as he would demand a big transfer fee along with high wages, we draw a list of the clubs in the top echelons of world football who might want to punt a fortune on the want-away winger.
The saga promises to be a long and protracted one, with a lot of swoops, gazumptions, monitoring the situation, pulling in and out of the race, and of course the statements declaring that Sterling is calm. It remains to be seen however whether there will be a ‘come and get me plea’.
A list of possible destinations has been listed below with the top four of the Premier League this season to go in addition to the two Spanish giants, PSG and Bayern Munich.
Sterling has been recently reported to hunt for houses in London, something that has fuelled rumours of a potential move to one of the two big London clubs. The most realistic bet would be Chelsea, because not only will they be able to meet his wages but also shell out the rumoured £40-50m transfer fee.
Chelsea’s main scout has been at Anfield many times this season and he would certainly not need further viewings to gauge the potential Sterling possesses.
In addition to the fact that he fulfils the home-grown quota, Sterling will be given the role to operate on Hazard’s opposite flank and it will be next to impossible for teams to stop the threat from either flank. With Cesc Fabregas feeding him and Diego Costa on the end of his crosses, Sterling would develop at a rapid pace at the champions.
On the way out is Juan Cuadrado who has played just over 300 minutes in half a season and a bright 20-year-old to replace him would be an ideal signing for Chelsea.
Manchester City have a dearth of quality wingers in their squad. They have mobile, technical players who can operate in the tightest of spaces, but if you were to replace the one tricky pony Jesus Navas with the brains of Sterling to go along with the Spaniard’s pace, you are talking a really dangerous player who will have a world class playmaker in David Silva working in tandem along with one of the most deadliest strikers on the planet in Sergio Aguero.
Wages won’t be a problem for City as they were reportedly willing to offer fellow Englishman James Milner an extraordinary £165,000 to sign a new contract before the midfielder decided to join Liverpool.
City would need additions to their squad to meet the home-grown quota because along with Milner, Lampard’s time at the club has come to an end following the expiration of his loan spell. Scott Sinclair is unlikely to play for them again and in Sterling, City will get someone who will add freshness to an ageing squad with a lot of rebuilding to be done.
Also, you can place safe money on the fact that the Citizens will be spending much more than the last two seasons now that the FFP shackles are off. Big names signings will be expected to come in along with Sterling, if it were to happen, and the move would benefit both parties.
Arsenal were the best side in the country during the second half of the season and if they had even a half decent start, they would have given Chelsea a run for their money in the league. Arsene Wenger must build on the strong finish to the season and add quality players to the squad. Wenger has broken the bank twice in the last two seasons, bringing in Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez with the squad going from strength to strength. Spending a similar amount on Sterling though seems like an unlikely prospect, with the need of an hour a world class midfielder to provide a solid base for Arsenal’s creative players.
With Theo Walcott capping of his gradual return from injury with a first half hat trick on the final day of the season, the club might want to extend his contract beyond 2016 as he has the backing of the manager.
Alternatively, Liverpool have been reported to want Walcott along with Gibbs and cash in exchange for Sterling’s services which might be a practical solution after all. They will be filling gaps in their squads adding experience at the same time.
United are reportedly set to make an audacious offer in the region of £25 million though there is the small matter of history standing in the way of Sterling moving across the two clubs, despite the player reportedly interested in a move as well.
It has been 51 years since Phil Chisnall moved from to Manchester United to Liverpool. The two clubs haven’t done business together since then, so fierce has the rivalry been, more than the London clubs, more than between even the two Manchester clubs. Michael Owen, the last person to play for the both clubs was promptly labelled as Judas despite moving to first Real Madrid and Newcastle before singing for United on a free transfer, and much worse will await Sterling in the unlikely scenario if were he to end up playing for United.
Louis van Gaal could make use of Sterling either side of Wayne Rooney on the front three, and along with Memphis Depay, he could add real spark to what has been a forgetful season for United’s attack. Angel di Maria looks to be on his way out along with Radamel Falcao and the futures of both Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez are in doubts.
United will have their coffers full with money thanks to the influx from the Champions League to go with the new £750m, 10-year Adidas kit deal that starts from the 1st of August but they will have to move hell to even make Liverpool consider an offer for Sterling.
Bayern Munich don’t have to look too far to find a long term replacement for either of Frank Ribery or Arjen Robben. Sterling’s pace and movement along with trickery can make him a mainstay at Bayern for years to come.
Sterling would however fit in the different system Pep Guardiola deploys and his versatility will suit the German champions well.
A major obstacle for that to happen though are his wages. If a 20-year-old earns more than your World Cup winning superstars, it might create a few troubles in the dressing room.
Xherdan Shaqiri was bought and sold without being given much game time and young players full of potential are finding it difficult if they make the move to bigger clubs as the result oriented business demands them to perform from the off. Maybe a few years down the line if not now, an Englishman will be setting the Bundesliga on fire.
New manager Rafael Benitez’s arrival has heralded fresh rumours of a bid for Sterling with whom the former Liverpool manager worked for a short duration of time six years ago. Real will be spending big again with David de Gea the number one target though it is unlikely they will be bringing another Premier League player to the Santiago Bernabéu, especially someone without the tag of a world class player, yet.
Transfer ban. Messi, Suarez and Neymar. 120 goals so far. Pedro signing a new deal until 2019. Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suárez returning from their respective loans.
On the back of a strong campaign, PSG will be looking to invest in quality wingers and even though it is public knowledge that Angel di Maria remains the priority, having missed out on the Argentine player last season, Sterling’s name has been thrown around after they came close to signing Memphis Depay.
It remains unlikely however that a move from England to the capital of France would materialise with the player preferring to stay in his home country, at least in the near future.
Finally the scenario in which no club comes in for him and Liverpool refuse to play low ball. Sterling’s contract runs till 2017 and he will be sold for much less with just a year left on his contract (think Michael Owen). Since a move away from the club looks imminent sooner rather than later, the best case scenario for Liverpool would be to extend his contract and include a buyout clause in it, not unlike what they did with Suarez a couple of summers back before cashing in the following season. But since an agreement between the two parties doesn’t look to be anywhere close on the horizon, Liverpool might well be forced to sell him this summer.
If Sterling doesn’t end up staying at Anfield, there is a strong possibility that he might sport the blue of either Chelsea or Manchester City next season with both the mega rich clubs wanting to fulfil their home grown quota and realistically, the only two clubs who will be willing to meet Sterling’s wage demands in England. He would feature more regularly at City though with Chelsea having a terrible record of developing young players. City are no better in all honesty, but Sterling will be an upgrade on Navas and with Milner gone, they could use a forward capable of playing in a variety of positions.