Former Liverpool defender and caretaker boss Phil Thompson put on a brave face after Reds flyer Raheem Sterling’s caustic BBC interview last month, casually (and somewhat unbelievably) suggesting the 20-year-old wouldn’t really be much of a loss if he left.
Thompson said on Sky:
“With all the hullabaloo about Sterling and whether he’ll be signing his contract or not, if he does decide to cut and run from Liverpool, well then we’ve got another youngster on the production line.
“(Jordon) Ibe has got a lot of potential on various different scales. Ability-wise he’s top class. He’s got dribbling ability, he’s got the final ball and he can score goals.”
The 61-year-old’s words seemed pretty premature at the time, considering winger Ibe had made just his second Premier League start, and his first since the final day of the 2012/13 campaign, in the 0-0 draw against Everton.
Furthermore, he was required to fill in at wing-back at Goodison Park, the very role that has irked fellow forward Sterling this season.
‘Thommo’ has stuck to his guns though, insisting Ibe ‘can be just as good as Raheem Sterling’ yesterday, while accepting the latter will likely leave Liverpool this summer.
Alas, the veteran Scouser may have to store his hopes in the Reds’ latest Premier League debutant Jerome Sinclair, with recent reports suggesting Ibe has joined the ‘contract rebel’ bench at Anfield.
Liverpool’s transfer committee, which includes Rodgers, head of recruitment David Fallows, director Mike Gordon, chief executive Ian Ayre, and chief scout Barry Hunter, has come under fire for misspending the £70m brought in by the sale of Luis Suarez last summer, plus around £40m more, on the likes of mistake magnet Dejan Lovren.
Tying down captain-elect Jordan Henderson on a £100,000 per week, five-year contract last month may have saved the quintet from the boot, which was rumoured to be on the cards a matter of weeks ago, but with Ibe, Sterling and Martin Skrtel all being awkward in the boardroom, their troubles may have only just begun.
Ibe has been offered a new contract worth more than three times his current salary, according to reports, meaning a boost from £7000-£25000 per week, but allegedly wants twice as much, while Sterling has already confirmed on national television that he turned down the same money Henderson accepted.
With that in mind, keeping the Jamaican-born youngster looks beyond the reach of Liverpool’s transfer kingpins, but losing Sterling 12 months after cashing their chips in on Suarez would send exactly the wrong message to Ibe and Skrtel, and leave the likes of Henderson and Philippe Coutinho wondering what they’ve let themselves in for.