From right around the corner to very soon to next week to imminent, the saga surrounding Raheem Sterling's new Liverpool contract has included everything but an actual signature. Talk of agent complications and wage disagreements have persisted, and the only real certainty in that the talented 20-year-old is yet to commit his future to the club beyond his current deal, which expires in 2017.
That leaves more than enough time to sort out an agreement, but there's a clear sense of anxiety about getting something sorted sooner rather than later. Count John Barnes among those that aren't quite as concerned, however, as the Liverpool legend feels that the versatile forward is in the perfect place to continue his progress, and that there should be no doubts about committing his future to the club for at least a few more years:
"If I was Raheem Sterling I would stay with Liverpool for the next three years. I've seen it with other young players, a lot to do with their agents, a lot to do with the money they have been offered, that they rush off to big clubs. Of course Liverpool is a big club, but the temptation must be to go to Real Madrid or Barcelona or wherever, but the danger is that you can be lost to the game, and I can give you so many examples, like Jack Rodwell who went too early to Manchester City and Scott Sinclair who also went to Manchester City.
"With all due respect to clubs like that, they might turn out to be worse for them, and they end up going back and then not getting a move again. I would advise young players not to rush, but to stay at their clubs until they are 23 or 24. I went to Liverpool at the age of 23 by which time I was a 35-cap international players who could handle it," he concluded."
The advise is likely unsolicited, and there's not actually been any indication from the player that he won't be signing a new deal. But when it comes to level-headed former players providing their opinions, Barnes is among the few worth listening to on a consistent basis. No matter the topic, his insight is invaluable, and it's no different here--the prospect of a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona is tempting, but right now, Raheem Sterling is in an environment in which opportunities to continue his growth are guaranteed, and that will hopefully win out.
It has to, at any rate, because now that John Barnes has weighed in, there can be no other outcome.
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