After failing to replace Luis Suarez, and with Daniel Sturridge out injured for much of the season, Liverpool have had to rely heavily on winger Raheem Sterling.
Such is his talent that, for much of the first few months, Sterling was their main man up front impressing both fans and manager Brendan Rodgers. But with the player now hoping for a new bumper contract extension, it appears all that the praise has gone to the young man’s head and frankly ridiculous figures are being thrown about.
Sterling’s agent is said to have turned down the offer of £100,000-a-week, and so in order to keep the player happy, negotiations will have to continue. Currently on £35,000-a-week plus performance based bonuses, Sterling has rejected an offer which is almost three times what he has been getting.
So has his performance this season been three times better than the last one? Well, probably not. Last year he was instrumental to Liverpool finishing second, while this season their hopes are pinned only on four, though a recent surge in form would have some fans believing they can finish higher than that. He is not a traditional striker , so he can’t be scrutinised on goals alone, which may be a good thing when you consider he’s only netted six goals for the Reds this season.
Now no one is saying that he shouldn’t receive more, but £100,000-a-week is a lot of money for a player he is not yet the finished product. He is still developing and if his time off in Jamaica back in January – said to help with exhaustion – is anything to go by then the young man isn’t even fit enough to deal with the gruelling Premier League season that most other players just crack on with.
According to Sterling and his agent, the magic number is closer to a massive £150,000-a-week, which would bring him in line with the club’s higher earners like Daniel Sturridge.
Players are well known for behaving strangely when it is time to negotiate contracts, but why Sterling would feel that this is necessary is unknown. Liverpool know he is a special and a highly sought after young player, so they will offer him the best terms they can in order to keep him at the club. The club are well aware that he is just playing the old ‘how high can you go’ game and so probably won’t hold that against him, but fans who pay to watch him play and buy his shirts will and should feel uneasy.
Sterling can make himself a legend at Liverpool if he continues to put the work in and stays loyal to the club. Not every player finds themselves a team where the fans support them week in, week out, and Raheem seems to have that now. Of course, he has earned that with the goals and assists he has produced, but it’s still something to bear in mind while negotiating.
Fortunately for Liverpool, Sterling’s contract doesn’t end until 2017, so there is no real rush to placate him, though it is not unheard of in this modern age for a player to force a move if his stocks are high enough and a club is willing to pay.
In the end Sterling will stay boosted by a sizeable increase to his income and all will be forgotten, but for now he looks like a spoilt brat who only cares about his pay check.