The summer’s big transfer saga appears to be entering it’s final stages, despite the fact that the transfer window is yet to actually open!
Reports claim that Manchester City are ready to meet Liverpool’s £50m valuation – or pay close to it – for Raheem Sterling and with football experts such as the Times’ Tony Evans saying that a deal will “definitely” be done, all signs point to the 20-year-old heading away from Anfield.
Whether or not it’s the right move for the youngster or the correct way to go about things for Liverpool themselves, Brendan Rodgers is set to be landed with a big headache: what to do this summer?
Well, here are FIVE options for B-Rod…
Liverpool’s most successful period over the course of the past two seasons coincided with Rodgers’ move to a 4-4-2 with a narrow diamond midfield. Okay, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in top form would have made practically any formation look impressive, but the system also got the best out of the likes of Philippe Coutinho and works well with progressive full-backs such as Alberto Moreno.
The set-up is also less reliant upon wide attackers, and with Sterling’s best position being on the flank his impact will be least missed. Coutinho could be deployed in the ‘No.10’ behind a front two (Mario Balotelli even works well in a two-man attack) while the likes of James Milner, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson could make up the block of three behind.
Sterling is good, but he’s not irreplaceable. In fact, there is a belief among large sets of Reds supporters that Ibe is actually a more promising talent, and it’s easy to see the logic behind this. Okay, the former Wycombe Wanderers trainee is a little more raw, but he’s a more direct runner, more powerful on the ball and appears to have made the adaptation to Premier League football a little quicker than Sterling did. Ibe is a similar style of player to Sterling in terms of position (he can even play as a wing-back) making him a ready-made replacement.
Markovic – who will not be allowed to believe despite suggestions of a return to Benfica – is another option for Rodgers to consider, with a tough debut campaign likely to have helped the young Serbian no end. The ex-Partizan Belgrade man has been talked about as one of the best youngsters in Europe for a while, so there must be something there waiting to be extracted.
The beauty of a potential early sale – the transfer window hasn’t even officially opened yet – is that Liverpool will have plenty of time to draft in a replacement. Roberto Firmino of Hoffenheim appears to be a candidate at the moment, while speculation also suggests that the infamous botched transfer of January 2014 may be revived for Yevhen Konoplyanka – albeit he’ll be a free agent this time, so there will be no stubborn Ukrainian chairmen to deal with.
Is Sterling even vital? Can a 20-year-old truly be the key cog for a top side? Opinion is divided, but with Sterling having not truly done anything special for the Reds – what has he won? What has he really contributed to? – there is the chance to just carry on as if nothing has really happened. Signings could be made and players will need to fill in, but is there really any need for special measures?
Okay, not exactly a ‘Sterling exit’ strategy, but Liverpool can just dig in. There is no release clause being spoken of, Sterling has two years to run on his contract and Liverpool have shown that they will not be bullied into selling in the past – The whole Luis Suarez ‘what are they smoking at the Emirates’ episode springs to mind.
Comments from the ever-lovable Aidy Ward seem to suggest that relations have completely broken down between club and player, but Sterling is in no position to go on strike. He’s unproven, needs to play to improve and has no chance of earning a massive transfer unless he continues to impress.