Last season’s Premier League runners-up Liverpool already look a pale shadow of their 2013/14 selves following Luis Suarez’s move to Barcelona, so the crescendo of whispers about a potential Real Madrid swoop for Raheem Sterling will not brighten moods on Merseyside.
Having gradually become the Premier League’s most intriguing teenage talent over the past two seasons, Sterling is now 3/1 to be a Real Madrid player by September 2nd 2015, with gossip columns claiming Bernabeu coach Carlo Ancelotti has made acquiring him next summer a priority.
Reports in the media suggest the Reds, and in particular boss Brendan Rodgers, have made life difficult for themselves by keeping Sterling’s wages at £30,000 per week, while an expected post-World Cup contract failed to materialise.
Rodgers has been quoted stating as much last month:
“When you reward young players too quickly – Raheem’s still only 19 – you give them too much too early and that will be their downfall. It’s a big problem because they lose their hunger.”
This is an admirable, and possibly correct, position to hold, but a difficult one within the current football financial climate.
New Manchester United signing Luke Shaw, who is yet to turn out competitively for the Red Devils, is the same age as Sterling and reportedly earns over £100,000 per week.
Gareth Bale, who was the last British player to make a mega-money move to La Liga, is on at least twice that, and the Wales international name-checked Sterling in a recent interview regarding Premier League stars who have the ability required to join him at the Bernabeu.
Los Blancos’ continued interest will surely bring contract negotiations forward, but with the wages on offer in Madrid astronomical compared to what the 19-year-old could realistically expect from Liverpool, especially considering Rodgers’ stated ethos, another Real raid on England looks likely.
Sterling notched six goals in his last ten Premier League fixtures, but without international and club colleague Daniel Sturridge, who missed the past four Liverpool fixtures, the former QPR youth has scored just once in four all-competition outings.
Rodgers’ Reds are 5/6 to halt a two-game top-flight losing streak by beating Everton at home this weekend, with Sturridge expected back in the side after shaking off a thigh injury.