The lengthy debate over the future of Raheem Sterling is finally set to be resolved with a £49 million transfer from Liverpool to Manchester City. It will be the highest domestic transfer fee paid for a British Premiership player.
The 20-year-old England winger incurred the wrath of football fans and several top pundits when he turned down a £100,000-per-week deal to stay at Anfield. From that moment on, it was clear that he had set his sights on a move to a Premiership rival with Manchester City obvious front-runners.
Two earlier bids from City were rejected but a £49 million deal plus add-ons looks set to be clinched this week. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has long maintained that he has a fine relationship with Sterling and was confident that he would remain with the club. Rodgers refused to be drawn into a debate over Sterling and preferred to concentrate on his new recruits. The sale of Sterling could trigger further spending from Liverpool who have already bolstered their squad this summer with six new signings.
The deal is good news for relegated QPR who sold Sterling to Liverpool as a 15-year-old, striking a deal that secures 20% of the transfer fee. It became clear that a deal was imminent when Sterling was not with the Liverpool squad for the pre-season tour of Thailand, Australia and Malaysia.
Sterling burst on to the scene in 2013-14 as Liverpool surged to within sight of the Premiership title. Their dreams were ultimately shattered by a home defeat to Chelsea and the loss of a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace. Sterling’s pace had proved a lethal weapon behind the strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. The sale of Suarez to Barcelona and an injury-riddled season for Sturridge took its toll on the Reds who dropped to sixth place last season.
He now joins a Manchester City side intent on regaining their Premiership title from Chelsea. While Sterling was a star player in Liverpool’s patchwork quilt of a side in 2014-15, he will find things a lot different at the Etihad. Competition will be fierce with International players available for every position in the side and Sterling will not be guaranteed an automatic staring place.
James Milner recently traveled in the opposite direction from Manchester City to Liverpool in search of regular first-team football. Sterling will have to recapture his best form quickly as he tries to put a turbulent season behind him.