Raheem Sterling is yet to sign a new long term deal at Liverpool. The 20 year old winger has since been linked with a huge £50 million move to Real Madrid. The club have allegedly been interested in acquiring the player since the summer. That is by any estimation, an awful lot of money for such a young player.
Sterling is young and undoubtedly has his best years ahead of him but £50 million is more than Chelsea paid for Eden Hazard. It would make Sterling one of the most expensive players ever, despite his young age and despite the fact that he’s not achieved an awful lot yet. But, this is the age we are in. Players now cost an absolute premium and clubs like Real Madrid have the cash to make big things happen.
The logic is that he might be worth £150 million one day, so why not pay up now. He’d almost certainly have a sell-on value if things went wrong. So what is the fuss, and what is the fuss about Sterling more generally?
Jose Mourinho was right when he said that no defenders want to play against Sterling. His blistering goal against Chelsea in the first leg of the Capital One Cup is evidence of this. He is a player who has the art of running at defenders down perfectly. Unlike other British runners like Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend, he actually has an end product and more intelligence about his game. This season he’s averaged three dribbles per game and created a further 2.5 chances per game. He’s clearly a dangerous prospect.
Last season he scored nine times in 33 appearances which is a very good goal scoring record for a then 19 year old supporting star. This year he’s scored four times in 21, albeit in a Liverpool side short of goal scoring confidence and playing with less fluidity in the absence of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. His finishing could get better though as he has converted just 10.5% of his chances this season, compared to 27% of his chances last year. That being said he’s still got a lot of responsibility resting on his shoulders for such a young player and so far it doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
One issue is that he will not get many games at Real Madrid who currently have two of the best wingers in world football (or wide forwards) in Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. They are prolific and powerhouse players who are constantly scoring goals. It’s difficult to see where Sterling would fit into this unless Karim Benzema is rotated out sometimes and Sterling comes in wide with Ronaldo up top. With Bale and Ronaldo having both stepped their game up hugely since moving to Madrid from the Premier League perhaps this is a good blue print for Sterling. Both players also bulked up on moving to Spain, and now possess great power as well as pace, this is something that would be very beneficial to Sterling. Whether he is worth £50 million or not remains to be seen, but he’s probably the most exciting young prospect in British football right now. Liverpool fans will be desperate for him to remain at the club and sign a new long term deal.