Why Reds are right in their handling of Sterling situation.
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Liverpool star Raheem Sterling is a known target for Manchester City this summer, with latest reports from the BBC Sport stating that the Reds have turned down a £35.5m offer for the England forward.
An article in The Sun today suggests Liverpool are wrong not to cash in on Sterling for that price, with the player’s recent incident involving the use of laughing gas just one of many examples used of his poor attitude and professionalism.
Still, there’s also the argument that Liverpool mustn’t allow themselves to become seen as a selling club. Having lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona just a year ago, following on from recent big-name departures like Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso in big-money moves abroad, not to mention the move by Fernando Torres from Anfield to rivals Chelsea in 2011.
If Liverpool are to be taken seriously as title contenders, they have to start keeping hold of their stars, and certainly must not lose them to rival teams. Arsenal are another example of a big club that lost its credibility in the mid-to-late 00s after consistently letting players go when offers came in, even when they weren’t particularly big ones. Could the likes of Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie really not have been kept by the Gunners at that stage? Was it worth the money brought in to see them shine elsewhere when they were still at the top of their game? And how long did it take to replace these players and build a strong enough team again? Was it worth being set back two or three years each time one of these players left?
Liverpool have to learn from last summer that simply bringing in money for a star player isn’t enough – Suarez may have brought in £75m (according to BBC Sport‘s report at the time), but that extra cash has not helped the Reds sign adequate replacements, in exactly the same way Gareth Bale’s sale did not give Tottenham a like-for-like replacement in attack; there’s a certain market for clubs who don’t show ambition, and there is a calibre of player who will not want to move to places like Anfield or White Hart Lane if their outstanding team-mates are going to be sold at the expense of truly busting a gut to win silverware.
Liverpool will have an idea in their mind of what it will take to let Sterling leave (£50m, according to the Independent) and they must ruthlessly stick to it. If clubs don’t pay that price, whatever it may be, then so be it, and better to eventually lose him for free if he continues to allow his contract to run down. It means another season or two of having his quality in the side, and that is the most likely way the Merseyside giants can work their way back into at least the top four.