Ahead of tomorrow's pivotal game against Arsenal in the race for the top four, Raheem Sterling's contract negotiations and possible departure have dominated discussion related to Liverpool. The youngster's unsanctioned interview with the BBC probably had the opposite effect intended, even if Sterling was composed and spoke well considering the scenario along with probing questions.
While he may not have been an automatic starter in his time at Liverpool, Kolo Touré has made 42 appearances over the last two campaigns to date and can be considered a reliable member of the squad despite turning 34 last month. His time at Arsenal and Manchester City was productive enough to provide silverware and memories, but more importantly, he receives a warm welcome whenever he faces his former clubs. This is a player who has played for three of the biggest clubs in England, won trophies, and moves on to different challenges with goodwill. The circumstances surrounding each of his moves probably made it easier for the fans to accept, but Touré's respectful attitude was vital in being seen as one of the good guys in football.
Kolo Touré told the Liverpool Echo what he thought was best for Raheem Sterling, and even with club loyalties to consider, the advice was fairly reasonable for a young player who doesn't turn 21 until early December.
This boy is a fantastic player. I'm not surprised there's speculation because everybody would want to have a player like him. But he needs to stay here. Liverpool is a great place for him. This is a massive club and he has a manager who believes in him. There's a lot more to come from Raheem and he needs to be in an environment where he can really express himself. I hope he signs. This is a club where he can really enjoy his football and where people will give him responsibility. This is definitely the best place for him to continue his development. At Liverpool, he's beginning to be one of the most important players. He's playing every week. If he went to another club there would be big challenges he would face. He wouldn't be the most important player.
He later went on to bring up the examples of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell who both arrived while Touré was still at Manchester City, but even at the 20, Sterling is far ahead of those two players in his development. Liverpool have one of the finest young players in Europe who isn't just a top domestic fledging. Sterling's Golden Boy award underlines this. Improvements in his productivity in the final third will come with time and may reach a point where he may have to move on, but for now, any individual advising Sterling will follow the advice of Kolo: "He needs to stay at Liverpool for at least two more years to go to the next level. Then he could look at it again."
There really is no need to be upset anyway, it's not like he'll leave for virtually nothing and become one of the most dominant central midfielders in world football before he turns 22. If that happened, then there'd be a lot of reasons to be upset.