The red half of Merseyside heaved a collective sigh of relief after official confirmation trickled in about controversial winger Raheem Sterling’s much-awaited exit for £49m to Manchester City. The wonderkid had earned the love and affection of almost every Kopite with his passion and determination indicating a keen desire to lead the side on to silverware at any cost. The Jamaica-born forward was expected to spearhead the revolution at Anfield in quest of much-awaited glory with negotiations for a fresh, improved, long-term contract branded as nothing short of “needless formalities” by the masses.
However, the events which transpired during these contractual negotiations can be termed tragic, to say the least. Discussions between the club and the player’s agent Aidy Ward continued to drag on with the club’s lucrative offer of a £100,000-a-week deal rejected almost instantly. Sterling further earned the ire of the fans after an unauthorised interview with the BBC where he openly discussed his club future. Not only this, the youngster was also pictured smoking a shisha pipe as well as attempting to inhale nitrous oxide using balloons with many terming his behaviour as “downright unprofessional.”
However, Ward’s inflammatory interview to a local tabloid where he downright rejected any possibility of a contract extension for even the most lucrative of terms proved to be the final nail in the coffin with Liverpool abandoning plans for any potential contract talks after his spiteful remarks at club legend Jamie Carragher.
“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation. I don’t care. He is definitely not signing. He’s not signing for £700,000, £800,000 or £900,000 a week. He is not signing. My job is to make sure I do the best with my clients. If people say I am bad at my job, or they are badly advised it does not matter.”
“Carragher is a knob. Everybody knows it. Any of the criticism from current pundits or ex-Liverpool players – none of them things matter to me. It is not relevant.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini struggled to conceal his excitement before the ink was barely dry hailing the talented youngster as a lad with serious potential whose capabilities would prove to be a major asset in the coming years.
“I think that Raheem can play in different positions. He can play as a forward because he has a lot of speed or he can play also on the wing,” said the ex-Real Madrid manager.
“He will also improve us as a team. It will depend how he works over the next few years, but I am sure he will be very important in our team, especially for his speed,”
The England international similarly expressed his excitement surrounding the move, with the world-class infrastructure and quality players in the squad making the decision a no-brainer in his opinion.
“The world-class players that are here and a squad that are capable of winning things year in, year out. The more quality players that are around you, the more quality it brings out in you so I can’t wait to get started and play alongside them”.
“The facilities are top class – there’s everything you need here and plenty more. There’s everything you need to take you to the next level so there’s no excuses!”
The addition of a marauding winger like Sterling was too good to be true for the Citizens who expected him to hit the ground running leading the side on to a league title in his very first season. Sadly, the reality could not be further from the truth with the pacey winger cutting a frustrated figure when deployed out wide under Pellegrini.
While many blamed the manager’s unfavourable philosophy and tactics for this debacle, others were less complimentary terming him as an overrated footballer whose head was clearly turned by the greed and riches available due to a lucrative contract. The arrival of ex-Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola who was known for his shrewd tactical acumen and ability to get the best out of his wingers has proved to be nothing short of a boon for Sterling who has transformed into a game-changer, capable of single-handedly dictating the course of matches.
The 23-year-old was an integral figure in Manchester City’s record-breaking domestic campaign last season contributing with 23 goals and 7 assists, emerging as a potent weapon in the attack. Guardiola has emerged as nothing short of a godfather with his tactical education and acumen which the camaraderie shared between the two certainly evident on the pitch. Sterling’s decisiveness, versatility and ability to spread terror in the opposition box under pressure makes him one of Manchester City’s key men in the attack along with Sergio Aguero and David Silva. The English international will be expected to lead from the front for the Citizens this season leading the side on to much-coveted European glory.
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