RAHEEM Sterling wants more money. Raheem Sterling wants Champions League football. Raheem Sterling feels bullied by Liverpool Football club. Raheem Sterling should be embarassed to face his team mates. Raheem Sterling is a good lad who just wants to play football. Delete as applicable. No, don’t. They’re all true.
Let’s pull back the lens from the narrow focus on outrage and self righteousness and take in the wider perspective. Let’s retreat from cod psychology and attempts to mind read Raheem and his agent Aidy Ward. Let’s park positions of pride and vanity and step back from melodrama. Let’s look at the real world. The real world of elite football business and its motives and targets.
Team Sterling — they want the 20-year-old man boy Raheem to have a long and fruitful career that will enrich him corporally and pastorally but primarily they want to increase his lifetime wealth and that of those who he has commissioned to act for him. Team Sterling also have a reputation to protect and ehance. They want more Raheem Sterlings. They want to be able to pitch to new clients confident that they can demonstrate a track record of acting entirely in the interests of the individuals. They need to find common ground with employers too. The incumbant ones and the future ones. It’s all about the relationships.
Team Sterling appear, on the surface, to have somewhat forgotten the latter. They’ve overtly used the media to attempt to force the hand of Liverpool FC. The media have played ball and have reached the desired conclusion — that the player no longer wants to play for the club. Yet, Aidy Ward concedes that his lad won’t be leaving Liverpool FC this summer. Of that much he, like the club itself, is certain. So why the rocking of the boat? Why apparently try to make the player’s position feel all but untenable? Are Team Sterling this dumb? Making it up and regretting it as they go?
The truth will be that Team Sterling have known since the very start of these negotiations with Liverpool that 1) it was in the young player’s best interests to continue his career at a good nurturing/first-team guaranteeing club like LFC for a further while, and that 2) Liverpool FC weren’t going to just accept the body blow — on a football and PR level — that letting the club’s brightest hope leave prematurely would represent. Team Sterling will have concurrently appreciated that the one whip hand they held over the employer was that the player was entering the last two years of his contract and that the club risked the loss of a potentially large transfer fee should he see that agreement out until its conclusion.
Sterling’s lads, perhaps irked by being ‘mugged’ into signing a £35k-a-week contract for their man less than two years ago, are now determined not to fall for the same spiel. The spiel that Brendan Rodgers oft repeats about how too much dough too soon can wreck the heads of young players and lead to them not fulfilling potential. Regardless of the merits of Brendan’s view, it’s a clever tactic. It implies a significant threat that a young player’s representatives have to take seriously. The subtext is, play it our way or the emerging money machine — that is your player — will not get our full commitment and your future earnings will dwindle. The club that develops the player will imply that severed from the mentor the player’s powers will diminish like Samson’s after a bad haircut.
That was the dance two years ago. Now things are different. Raheem has moved into a new phase of his development and Team Sterling know it. Liverpool FC would probably have liked to park Sterling on a new five-year contract for £80k a week that allows for bonuses that will see him break the £100k-a-week barrier, with an £80-100m release clause tagged on for good measure.
Sterling’s lads want to have cakes and to eat them whenever they choose. They want the inflationary hyper rate of £150k-plus a week that clubs would routinely pay for precious talent, but they also want to be able to ditch the deal and bail out for a richer one within a couple of years, should opportunity knock. Team Sterling have watched how the Suarez affair played out with keen interest.
Player agitates for move. Club stand firm knowing there are still two years left before they can lose all. Player sulks. Club defiant. Player bows head, rehabilitates and quietly goes about the business of enhancing his playing reputation. Six months pass. Peace has broken out. Player’s people return to the negotiating table, replete with humility and respect for the club. They know that the club’s hand is now weaker with that contract expiry clock ticking down. Name your fair price for the player’s worth they say to the club. He’s buckled down. He’s improved. He’s worth more than he was when the impasse began a year ago.
So the club are twitchier. The player has become more invaluable. His transfer worth greater, his contribution to the team increasingly pivotal. He’s gone for nothing in 18 months. Desperate, the club agree to ‘compromise’ at £150k a week. For five years. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The £50m-plus transfer fee the club could lose is protected. The player’s team know that if the player breaks both his legs a mighty wedge is still guaranteed. The fans start to believe that they aren’t going to be supporting a ‘selling club’ in perpetuity.
Six months further on, one of two alternative statuses are apparent. Either player has outgrown the club or the club has outgrown, or at least matched, the player. In the latter scenario, other stars have emerged in a team that is now challenging at the top and has an elite European profile. The player may have plateaued and be thanking his lucky stars for his assured £150k a week for five years.
The other, and worryingly more likelier position, is that club are again just falling short. The young player has emerged as their beacon and brightest light, but he alone cannot take them to the highest prestige and earnings plane. The smart representatives planned for this. They worked all along for this moment, when they insisted — way back when — that a release clause be inserted in that shiny compromise contract. The escape hatch. The level was key. Pitched perfectly at the value the employer club had feared they could lose if the contract were to be run down. No more. No less.
This is how it will play out with Raheem Sterling. The next moves are not about either facilitating a move for the player now, or securing a long-term future at Anfield either. The play that will be acted out selectively in public will reveal a finale aimed at one thing — securing Sterling a smooth exit from Liverpool within 12 months and the assurance of riches and trophy opportunities that the current incarnation of Liverpool Football Club seem to have insufficient appetite to match.
We haven’t seen the last of Raheem Sterling on our fields at Anfield Road, but the smart money is that we will have done by this time next year.
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Whilst you make some good points we fans still think that Ward (a disgrace to our family name) and Sterling are being greedy bastards. Did Gerrard get anything like the deal they are wanting at that age the answer is no, the same applies to Suarez and Sterling has a very long way to go before he reaches that ability, but when and if he does then he and Mr 25% can cash in.
Using Gerrard is a pointless argument, it was a time when SG was 20 that I would think a fairly small number of players (if any?) were getting 100k a week.
Different times 15 years ago.
And, as laid out by Paul Cope in yesterday’s Unwrapped pod (a bargain at 17p, etc.), Sterling is ahead of Gerrard in terms of goals scored after same number of first team appearances. He’s also on par with Ronaldo. And Hazard. (Eden, not Micky.)
Great article that makes many realistic if difficult to accept points
Not since Robbie Fowler have the club relied on a young player as much as Raheem, the horse bolted last summer and Raheem is in the box seat, 35k per week compared to all last summers signings wages is ridiculously low, however, he needs another year to develop before his team can cash in, 15 – 20 goals next season and he is the hottest property in world football.
Aidy Ward probably doesn’t give a shit whether Sterling reaches his potential years down the track, he just wants his cut now. Biggest cut is making us sell him somewhere and he swims in a pool of gold like Donald Duck
Agents are parasites, do nothing but for their own monetary gains, they don’t even really give a shit about the player
Yeah have to offer him the £150 M, just so can get him to sign and club, can then cash in, but the caveat must be a ridiculous release clause, more than £50M, I believe QPR are entitled to a % of the sell on fee. Suarez went abroad, for a bargain, sell to a rival and richer club in same league I want to see JW play hardball and ask what they smoking? unless its £70M plus.
Giving, say Arsenal are best potential player for £50M , signals a small club mentality. I feel the club needs to be ruthless, in everything from now on and stop the decline into mediocrity, reflected on the pitch in the last 7 games or so.
I was furious when Hendo tried to set Stevie up, when he was in a much better position, there was a fucking football match to win. For too long it has been about one player, it hurts to say it but for Steven Gerrard, see United and Bryan Robson, Hero, some cups here and there, but no bread and butter.
It really is a new dawn, especially with Stevie gone. I feel all the history, sentimentality has to be let go off, even the 10 year Istanbul, The time is now and its about, Money and Champs League, that’s it these are the rules every Big Club plays buy and if want to be seen as Big by the new breed of players and fans, History don’t cut it. Press reporting Platini may relax FFP to further help his Sheik mates, this would see club falling further of the pace. Billy Hogan, needs to continue to work his ass off.
Such a crime, the way the Russians and Arabs toxic influence has eaten away at what heart football had left.
Who has the next 2 world cups.. ah well the Mafia built New York.
It’s a little odd, the way we instinctively side with club over player in the matter of wage negotiations. Employers rarely, if ever, pay an employee what he’s really worth to them. That’s how capitalism works. Landowners and capitalists exploit the workers, in order to maximise profit.
We all know this. We’ve all felt exploited by our employers.
And I get that it’s ‘our’ club.
And I get that under FFP, wages are restricted to a proportion of turnover, ergo there’s only so many ways to slice the cake.
And I get that the amounts of wages being discussed here are almost beyond my comprehension.
But honestly, ‘our’ club is owned by a bunch of American hedge fund über-capitalists. The kid has talent. The kid has been one of our best players for the past 18 months. The club is awash with new TV money. The cake is bigger than ever. And I don’t begrudge him a decent slice of it.
Support the workers, as they used to say.
Next, you’ll be voting Tory.
It’s a little odd, the way we instinctively side with club over player in the matter of wage negotiations. Employers rarely, if ever, pay an employee what he’s really worth to them. That’s how capitalism works.
You’re right. Has Sterling earned 150/wk though? Not yet. If the dude could finish I’d be all for giving him that. Heck, if he could finish we’d be in Champions League football again and BR’s job would be safe for another season.
On what basis? I’ve no idea, truthfully, but compared with Johnson? With Gerrard (as is, this season)? Sturridge?
Or perhaps with Robbie Savage, who used to boast to oppo players that he was on £40k a week, whenever he was last employed in that capacity?
Or Joseph Barton? Wasn’t he on 80k?
All the above are pre the new TV deal, too…
On the basis of our present salary structure. Is it lower than it needs to be? Maybe. If there was an accurate list somewhere of what everyone of the team was getting paid we’d better be able to tell what Sterling is likely worth. Is Stevie getting 150/wk? 200? More? No idea. How does Sterling deserve anymore than what Coutinho just signed for?
You’ve hit upon something there. FSG would probably like us all to buy in to the view that money needs to be available to fund wages of exciting signings (like Depay?) &/or reward excellence by our current squad. Therefore, Raheem is portrayed as an unfair drain on meagre resources. But we are shedding acknowledged big earners, & not exactly flooded with world class new signings. So all I’m suggesting is we do wherever it takes to hang on to our brightest rough diamond. Marginal cost of the extra £50k/week is ‘only’ £2.6m/year. I’m sure we could bear that burden. Though of course, Ward reportedly said yesterday they’d turn down £900k/week…
Sol Campbell says most footballers vote Tory..,
There is nothing wrong with someone trying to maximise his incone in any occupation. You always use peers as a benchmark. But it’s gone beyond that. My feel is that Sterling wants away, whatever happens. Maybe people more privy could enlighten us, but his comments about ‘trophies’ rings true. The lack of funds avaiable in January told me that FSG were reassessing the management of the club. Sterlinfg (who I DO NOT consider to be a naïf being led by a greedy agent – I think he knows what he’s doing. Sonething within the club tells him we are as good as we are going to get under Rodgers, and that’s not good enough for him. And why should it be? We are Liverpool, after all.
Well said. He’s not going to have decided this lightly, & must at some level have sanctioned his agent taking the nuclear option. Worrying times.
Obviously I agree with all of this, but given Ward’s comments to the Standard it looks like he’s trying to force the club’s hand now, rather than pushing it out for a year on better terms. He seems to have gone nuclear, which seems strange and something that’s definitely unfortunate for Sterling. What if the kid ends up staying? Can a relationship be rebuilt? There’s more than one side to it.
One thing is for sure though: booing him, slagging him off, kicking his car tyres, whatever – probably best to pack it in. It’s not helping. In fact, it is probably exactly what Ward is banking on, so how about he gets a massive cheer and a chant from the travelling support this weekend?
Don’t forget Aidy Ward’s in the process of going alone, setting up his own agency. This is what the Sterling and Berahino controversies are all about.
Can we not support the lad and have some fun at the weekend. Make him feel wanted and take some heat away. All together now:
Raheem Sterling, he signs when he waaannnttts.
Raheem Sterling. He signs when he wants
The only way for Sterling to kiss and make up is to sack Aidy Ward (what a shite name) and present him to the streets for a public flogging
Liverpool management does not want to over-extend themselves for Sterling at this point in his career. If LFC truly wanted him then they could have blown the doors down with an early offer that Sterling couldn’t resist. But they have been hesitant and for good reason.
Liverpool has comparable talent with Ibe, Lallana, Coutinho, Origi and thats not counting future transfers. There is no reason to overpay Sterling solely on potential if he may not be here in 4-5 years to actualize it.
It would be smarter to not over-extend to Sterling and dedicate the funds towards other more experienced or impacting talent. Now if both parties can figure out a way to come to an agreement then that would be great.
How are Ibe or Origi comparable to Sterling???
One has less than 600mins game time in the Prem with no goals or assists while the other has yet to kick a ball in the Prem.
Meanwhile Sterling has 120+ appearances, 20+ goals in total and 9 assists for this season alone all at the age of 20.
There is no way to dispute Origi’s lack of EPL experience. But lets put things in perspective. Last season Sterling was a relatively unknown commodity as well. He didn’t play much to start the season and was a very late sub in most of the games. It wasn’t until January that he hit his stride and won over Rodgers. With a lack of playing time, he finished with 9 goals and 5 assists (EPL).
This season he has been a key cog in the machine and has 7 goals with 7 assists (EPL). Granted his outlet options have been limited so with healthy and better striker options available, I am sure his assist tally would be slightly higher.
But when you look at this, does this scream transcendental talent to you? Not yet it doesn’t. One of the reasons why Sterling has received so much hype is because of LFC supporters. They have turned the perception of Sterling from a lad with good upside to a lad with potential to be a transcendental talent. Which is it? I don’t know and none of us do. Thats the great thing about life…..its about the player putting in the work to actualize his potential.
If both sides can work out an agreement then that would be great. If they sell him then it isn’t that big of a deal due to the players we have that can fill a similar role…. and not accounting for future transfers that more funds will be available for if we aren’t over-extending for Sterling.
Arsenal and PSG are allegedly interested. If so, player plus cash please. Walcott or Cabaye.
There’s still only one response to this: make a statement signing.
Spend 40M or whatever it takes to sign Lacazette. Suddenly our whole squad are able to play to their ability, in their proper positions. Square peg/square holes.
If we succeed, Sterling gets sorted on our terms. If not, Rodgers is out and we let the new manager build the squad in his image. But I have a strong feeling that Rodgers could make it happen with a proper striker (or two with Sturridge eventually fit).
What a mess, I pick up the Standard to read the front pages and after turning over the Iceland advert , Sterling on the Front page!
I don’t agree, with the way his agent put it, but every ex player sticking there awe in isn’t helping, that would piss me off, when your young you don’t want to be told all the time, you want people to listen to you.
What does Raheem actually want, its his life, he’s done his best and put a shift in every game, it must be hard to settle for this after the bar was raised last season.
I believe he’s a special player who can only improve, to see him in another premier league colours, ripping thru are defence, would be painfull.
All Red’s best players of recent years went to play abroad, only Torres went to a rival and he flopped, imagine if he had played like his best Liverpool form, how that would of felt.
Obviously we had Luis to soften the blow, but who’ s going to be good enough and obtainable to replace Raheem, can’t even attract someone like Depay.