Can Liverpool Keep This Explosive Winger At Anfield?

Liverpool and all members of the Kop have every right to feel aggrieved at the recent furore that has enveloped the Raheem Sterling contract saga.

Raheem Sterling

The 20-year old explosive winger granted an ill-advised interview in which he tried to explain that he was “not a money grabbing” kid. Sterling also mentioned that he is focused only on playing football and winning trophies.

And then of course, he added that reported interest in his services by Arsenal was “flattering”.

His manager, Brendan Rodgers, who must be hailed for the manner he has tried to diplomatically handle the situation, issued a strongly worded response to Sterling’s “flattering” comments.

Rodgers described Liverpool as “one of the world’s greatest club”, and insisted there is no way Sterling would be interested in leaving.

Tough words, and to a reasonable extent, true words. The Northern Irishman even had the opportunity to confirm his statements on Saturday afternoon, when the Reds played the Gunners.

But on Saturday’s evidence, young Sterling has every right to feel flattered by Arsenal’s interest. And Liverpool definitely did not look like a club on the verge of national greatness, never mind being an existing world great.

A thumping 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Arsenal will only have served to prove to Sterling that his future is not at Anfield.

In terms of footballing competitiveness, Liverpool’s form has taken a dive in recent weeks, and they have failed to take any points against Manchester United and Arsenal in their last two matches.

Indeed, the 19 game unbeaten run that was ended against United seems so long ago now.

Perhaps off-field distractions have combined with his position in the playing squad, but Sterling has suffered a dip in form in recent weeks.
As the Daily Mail pointed out last week, he has scored less goals this season than Jon Walters of Stoke City.

The implication is that young Sterling may already have his mind elsewhere, if even not at Arsenal.

Against the Gunners, he was deployed at centre forward. His most telling contribution came when he won the penalty that captain Jordan Henderson converted to earn Liverpool a consolation goal.

That Sterling was selected ahead of the now uninjured Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli was a statement of how highly regarded the youngster is to his manager.

But from a footballing perspective, Rodgers needs to deploy more quality around Sterling. That will, perhaps, convince him of the “world’s greatest” stature of Liverpool. Leaving out Sturridge will do little to aid the cause of the club.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have comprehensively displayed to Sterling just what he could enjoy if he moves to North London soon.

In any case, a transfer to Arsenal is far from possible. That £40 million plus £1 bid for Luis Suarez in 2013 will remain fresh in memory. And the chances of being top dog at Arsenal are very slim.

Sterling has had a stellar season and half with Liverpool, and few would begrudge him his demands for a lucrative deal even though £100,000-a-week is not peasantry for a still developing 20-year old.

For Liverpool, the task is theirs to convince their prized asset to hang on. And it is an uphill task. Losing to interested suitors in humiliating fashion will not help their cause.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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