You can’t go anywhere at the moment without hearing about Raheem Sterling’s ongoing contract battle with Liverpool. With 24 months left of the 20-year-old’s current deal, the Merseyside club are anxious to lock the forward into a longer commitment; but are Liverpool putting too much pressure on the young man?
It is easy to look at the situation from the outside and feel that Sterling is the problem in this seemingly never ending dispute. After all, Liverpool offered Sterling £100k-a-week recently, but the player confirmed that this huge sum was turned down.
The England international currently earns £35k-a-week, which considering his impact and responsibility at Liverpool these last two seasons, is on the low side and no one resents his desire to up his wages.
The problem stems from a belief that Sterling is trying to squeeze as much money out of the club as possible. £100k is a lot of money and to turn it down has made him look greedy.
But why is Sterling being forced to address this issue now anyway?
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At the time that his contract negotiations were made public Liverpool still had a good chance of making the top four. If anything, this whole saga has been an unnecessary distraction and may have contributed to their recent slump in form.
His advisors are probably not helping the situation, but Liverpool have allowed the whole thing to escalate further than it should have. Now we have had Sterling talking, without permission, to the BBC about how he’s not a money grabbing spoilt footballer and clubs both in England and Europe have been inevitably drawn into the private matter.
So called future Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has mentioned his appreciation for the player’s ability and confirmed his interest in possibly bringing him to the Spanish capital. Premier League giants like Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all rumoured to be readying big summer bids for a player that Liverpool have categorically stated is not leaving the club in the next window.
Having these wealthy English teams supposedly chasing one of your best players is bad enough, but once Real Madrid throw their hat in the ring it takes it all to another level. If Sterling really is in contention for a move to the Spanish capital then surely there will be very little that Liverpool can do to keep him from leaving.
Perhaps Liverpool felt that Champions League football next season might have been beyond them back in March and decided the only way to hold onto Sterling was to lock him in before he realised it too. All players young and old want to play in the biggest games and Raheem has already had a brief taste of Europe’s most respected tournament, before the Reds were knocked out in the group stages back in December.
With two years still to go on his contract, Liverpool should have respected Sterling’s wishes and waited for the end of the season before trying to get him to sign. Now the young forward appears at odds with his employers and may have lost some of the backing from sections of Anfield.
If Liverpool hadn’t tried to bully Sterling into making a decision then maybe it could have been completed quietly during the summer. Now only time will tell if he lines up in the red of Liverpool next season, or the hypnotic white of Real Madrid.