Last Sunday, Manchester City announced that they had signed Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling for an astronomical fee of £49m. The young Englishman is reportedly getting paid somewhere in the range of £200k a week, an incredible amount of money for any player to be paid. After months of speculation over whether the 20 year old would leave Liverpool and where he could go, the Sterling saga is finally over.
People have been questioning the possible fee since Manchester City were initially linked. But, since the announcement of the signing, the Citizens have caught quite a lot of flak for not only the fee, but the signing itself. The fee and the wages that Sterling will be paid have every right be questioned. £49m is a colossal amount of money, and £200k a week for a 20 year old is almost even crazier. That said, while they are paying a monumental fee, people saying that he will rot on the bench and never play at City are mistaken. The former Liverpool player has every chance to succeed at Manchester City because he is a quality player. Raheem Sterling is not Scott Sinclair or Jack Rodwell, he is the reigning winner of the European Golden Boy award. Raheem Sterling is a huge talent with the potential to be a world class player.
Even forgetting his potential, he is currently good enough to get into the Manchester City side. He can play in a multitude of different positions, but his primary position is as a winger. City usually play either the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-4-2/4-2-2-2. Sterling has the quality to find his way into the City side regardless of the formation they play. When Manuel Pellegrini sets up in a 4-2-3-1 with David Silva as the number 10, Sterling can play on either wing. When they play 4-4-2, the left wing spot is usually occupied by Silva, so the Englishman would be competing for a spot on the right. He’ll likely have to compete with Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas for that spot.
Navas hasn’t exactly been a hit since he came to England. His stats looks alright, but many think he is too one dimensional as a quick winger that crosses a lot. Not only do people think he’s one dimensional, but many have complained that his one dimension isn’t very good. Sterling is a much tougher player to play against. He can get to the byline and whip in a cross or he can cut inside take on players and score goals. If you asked most Manchester City fans, they’d prefer to play Sterling to Navas.
Nasri on the other hand is arguably better than Sterling at this moment. However, the former Arsenal man has problems of his own. The Frenchman missed a lot of games last season through injury, making only 18 Premier League starts. His other problem is that he is a bit too similar to David Silva. They are both more attacking midfield types as opposed to out and out wingers. While both quality players, Silva will start over Nasri on most occasions and when both start on opposite wings City can lack pace and verticality in their attack. Ideally, they have Silva as an attacking midfield type on the left wing with a quicker more direct winger on the other side. Sterling fits that bill which could give him an edge over the Frenchman.
Raheem Sterling is one of the top talents in not just English football, but European football. He’s very technically gifted, can score goals, and goes past players for fun. He may never justify his £49m price tag in some peoples eyes, but he will not fade into obscurity like some young English talents before him. Raheem Sterling is not Scott Sinclair. He is a different kettle of fish, and he will prove that over coming seasons.