When Manchester City splashed out £50 million on Raheem Sterling in the summer, it seemed that the footballing world was there for the taking. It was an astronomical fee for a seemingly incredibly gifted teenage sensation but ever since Luis Suarez left Liverpool (bear with me on this one); Raheem Sterling has seen his progress stall…
The year Liverpool came second, Raheem Sterling was part of the much lauded attacking trifecta that Brendan Rodgers had at his disposal. Alongside Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling emerged from Melwood and took the Premier League by storm.
With Suarez departed and Sturridge injured, Sterling carried much of the attacking burden the following season. Gerrard’s performances weren’t what they once were, Brendan Rodgers seemed at a loss of how to replace all the goals missing in his squad (a point not risen enough when considering what went wrong for Liverpool) and entrusted young Raheem to try and become a no.9.
Whilst not maintaining the dizzying heights of the previous season, Sterling’s star had continued to rise, enough so that Manchester City thought it reasonable to offer £50 million. £50 million pounds. A truly silly amount of money. People accused Liverpool of being a selling club or that Rodger’s was clueless. But now, with the benefit of glorious hindsight, you have to look back and think that Liverpool did one of the best pieces of business of last summer.
Sterling immediately found a home out wide; playing behind Aguero he had the likes of David Silva, Yaya Touré and other newbie Kevin de Bruyne to be his play mates in the final third but since Christmas he has been completely anonymous.
This season Sterling has chipped in with six goals and three assists, but considering that three of those goals was a hat-trick against Bournemouth back in October and only one goal and zero assists occurring since Boxing Day, for a £50 million player, it really has been an awful return.
What seems so odd is that in a world where Wayne Rooney keeps getting battered from pillar to post for being a bit crap this year, no one mentions Raheem Sterling. With the Euro’s on the horizon, no one is talking about whether Raheem Sterling will be on the plane or not. I just can’t decide whether this is because everyone has decided that he just has been a bit rubbish, so it isn’t even worth considering him going or perhaps he is already on the plane because he is talented or fast. If it is the case of the latter, then we are dangerously flirting with Theo Walcott territory here, and we already have a Theo Walcott to take if we need one dimensional speed.
So what has happened to Raheem Sterling? God only knows. Clearly, Pellegrini didn’t feel that Sterling was the type of player to be trusted since Christmas. I can’t recall a particular injury either that would of put Sterling out of a certain run of games.
Does Sterling have the necessary skill set that Pep Guardiola will want at Manchester City next season? Not really. Sterling, whilst fast and able to take on a man, doesn’t have the passing ability that Pep duly requires. Even when Guardiola changed things up a bit at Bayern Munich last summer and brought in the likes of Douglas Costa, the Brazilian can whip a mean ball into the box – another facet of Sterling’s game that isn’t strong enough to pick him alone for delivery.
For Sterling, whilst harsh seems that a role similar to Pedro’s at Barcelona seems destined for next season. Coming off the bench when defences are tired and using pace to unlock tight games or (admittedly rather patronisingly) to rest star players when the game is done.
Next season is massive for Raheem Sterling. Manchester City won’t sit around and wait for the Sterling of two or three years ago to start to turning up and turning it on. Should he go to the Euro’s this summer? Definitely not. This is an England squad supposedly picked on form and not reputation and Sterling has enough of neither to warrant amnesty from the cut.
In a world where English clubs have an unnatural talent for developing one dimensional, pacey wide men, it seems ridiculous to think that we may have to add a £50 million Raheem Sterling to such a list doesn’t it?
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog