The season isn’t even over, and already it seems Liverpool are embarked on another summer of discontent. Of disruptive storylines and want-away players and hand-wringing questions about whether the club can ever again be a force in English football. And that’s without even getting into questions about management and Brendan Rodgers’ role moving forward.
Leading the way is the unavoidable Raheem Sterling saga following news that the player would push for a move away from the club this summer and rumours dissatisfaction with the manager has played a role in his determination to make a switch. Former Reds legend John Barnes, though, thinks the 20-year old winger isn’t ready to move on and could be on the verge of destroying his own career.
"Raheem has great potential, but Liverpool gave him an opportunity and he should say," said Barnes, who sees a real risk of Sterling getting lost in the shuffle in a side higher up the table. "Does anyone believe that if he goes to Manchester City he will be the first name on the teamsheet, or are they just signing him because they need English players? We’ve seen it with players in the past like Scott Sinclair."
Sterling is likely already a better player than Sinclair was when he left Swansea for City, and Sterling clearly has more upside, but he and his agent could be in for a rude awakening if he thinks he really is the finished product already. But of course, there is a tendency amongst players to think they are better than they are, that despite any evidence to the contrary they will be the exception.
Every young player thinks he’s ready to replace Arjen Robben at Bayern or to play alongside Messi regularly at Barcelona or make his name as one of Madrid’s galacticos. Most, though, even up stagnating and unhappy at their limited minutes. Most end up like Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay and Alvaro Morata. Right now, Sterling may have all the promise in the world, but he isn’t good enough to start for those clubs.
Similarly at City, he would probably get minutes, but he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter. On his form in the second half of this season, he might not make it off the bench most weeks. Sterling right now is already a very good player, but he isn’t world class—and for the sorts of club that at 20 he already seems to have set his heart on going to, if you aren’t world class you mostly don’t start.
Perhaps he will move and be paid a great deal to put his head down in training while making the best of limited minutes for a year or three and still become world class. It just seems an odd move to be determined to make when he would be more likely to turn into that sort of player by putting his head down, playing every week at Liverpool, and keeping any dreams of future moves to himself.
- On Brendan Rodgers, Absolute Power, and Failing to Identify Talent
- Liverpool FC Transfer Rumours: Manchester City Preparing £40M Sterling Bid
- The Real Thing
- Sterling Heckled, But Philippe Coutinho Emerges as the Star of Liverpool Awards Ceremony
- Liverpool FC Transfer Rumours: Reds to Battle Tottenham for Serie A Defender