Another day, another Raheem Sterling transfer twist. The latest big ‘development’ suggests that Arsenal are ready to offer £20m and Theo Walcott to land the 20-year-old from Merseyside, which, on paper at least, appears to be a pretty decent deal all round.
Sterling could earn more money at the Emirates Stadium and play in the Champions League, while Walcott could get the game time he deserves for the team he’s known to support. As well as the players, Liverpool would make some cash and bring in a replacement, while Arsenal would be getting hold of one of Europe’s best young players at a relatively low rate.
However, we at FFC Towers think this potential deal could be a shocker for the clubs and stars involved… and here are FIVE reasons why.
Winger? ‘No. 10’? Striker? Wing-back? Just where is Sterling most dangerous and consistent? Brendan Rodgers appears unsure of the definitive answer, with ‘young Raheem’ having been deployed in all of the above roles over the course of the past 12 months.
Traditionally a wide attacker, Sterling’s pace and trickery are suited to playing on the flanks, but the position leaves him a little isolated. In the ‘No. 10’ he can influence games, but he often lacks the decisiveness and ruthlessness of a top playmaker. Further forward as a striker, his finishing is not quite up to scratch. And finally at wing-back, his attacking qualities are neutered.
Tough call. Arsenal need a top class, instant impact player to challenge for the big honours, and until Sterling’s best position is found, he cannot be that.
While Sterling appears a little unsuited to the needs of Arsenal, Walcott himself is not quite right for Liverpool. The ex-Southampton man is genuinely talented, but pace is the big thing he brings to the table. He can often be a bit of a blunt instrument, with straight-line speed not always the right method of breaking a defence, and the Reds frequently come up against packed backlines, who sit deep to counter their threat.
This is partly why Walcott has never truly shone at Arsenal, and the likelihood of him being a better fit at Anfield isn’t great.
While Sterling has been making the headlines, Philippe Coutinho has quietly signed a new long-term contract and been, arguably, the club’s best player this season. In an attacking midfield role, he needs players around him capable of contributing to his neat style of play, and with Walcott not adept in a central attacking role (Coutinho has been playing alongside Adam Lallana or Sterling in a two-man system off a main striker) his promising performances may be at risk.
With Daniel ‘made of glass’ Sturridge also at Anfield, the last thing Liverpool need is a player who’s likely to miss a large chunk of the season. Walcott has only just re-emerged from a hellish injury that ruined his 2014, which is far from being a good sign.
The pacey England star has also suffered with fitness issues on numerous occasions in recent years, which has contributed to his average of 19 Premier League starts per season since the 2009/10 campaign (discounting this season).
At just 20, Sterling is far from being the finished article. Although he’s definitely a talented player, his moments of magic are not quite frequent enough as it stands for him to be classified as world class.
Arsenal are expected to challenge for the Champions League, the cups and the Premier League, so ‘hit the ground running’ players are what they need, and the England international is not likely to be in that bracket for at least a few more years.