Raheem Sterling’s Liverpool future may still be up in the air—and getting messier by the day—but one thing that is certain is that he won’t be taking part in the U21 European Championship this summer. Early in the year, there had been some suggestion he might be called up—Sterling is, after all, still only 20 years of age—but Gareth Southgate has this week confirmed that the young attacker isn’t in their plans.
"There’s a bit of it being about what is right for the development of the player, whether the experience is one that will benefit them," Southgate told BBC Radio 5 when asked about Sterling’s status. "Then there’s whether there’s a connection with the rest of the group—what the dynamic of the team is. An example would be Raheem Sterling, who we now feel is an established international, and other countries have similar situations like that.
"Germany have Julian Draxler for example who could play but will now be with their seniors. In France, Pogba is eligible, but he’s moved through that. Every country has similar scenarios with their top players. Realistically, Raheem has become a very important player for the senior team and Liverpool. Part of my role is looking at the development of individuals, and I’m not convinced another tournament this summer would be right for him."
The expectation already was that, as an established senior player, Sterling wasn’t under consideration to be involved with the U21s this summer. Still, the further confirmation can only be seen as good news given the amount of action the youngster has seen over the past two years, and the acknowledgement that the last thing Sterling needs right now is another busy summer is a reassuringly common sense approach
If there was any doubt before, then, there isn’t now, and Sterling will get the summer off. Which only leaves the small concern of Liverpool getting him a new contract to obsess over.