The exorbitant nature of the figure involved, coupled with the player’s relatively modest goal return, make £49m for Raheem Sterling sound like one hell of a price from a Liverpool perspective.
Indeed, the Anfield old boys turned media professionals have been quick to chorus the shared sense of glee felt on behalf of Reds fans the world over upon hearing the news that an agreement had been reached for the England international’s sale to Manchester City.
Sky Sports’ own Jamie Carragher describes the deal thusly:
“There’s no doubt £49m is a great deal for Liverpool. It’s a great fee and credit to the owners who have shown great strength.”
Meanwhile, legendary Reds defender and former assistant manager Phil Thompson was a little more vitriolic in his goodbye/good riddance Sterling statement:
“Liverpool have done most things rights with the deal, but you can’t say the same thing about Raheem or his agent.”
It’s clear to see where their loyalties lie, but the obvious bias of those championing Liverpool’s negotiating prowess has blinded them to the fact the Merseysiders haven’t fared as well from this sale as the initial assessments would have us believe.
Firstly, almost £10m of the £49m (£5m of which is believed to be made up of achievement-based incentives, which, obviously, aren’t guaranteed to occur) goes to QPR, whose academy Liverpool lured Sterling from for just £500,000 and a 20% sell on clause in 2010.
The hypocrisy of plundering unpolished jewels from a side in far greater need of resources for a paltry sum they would multiply by almost 100 when the time came to cash in aside, this £9.8m that must be wired to Loftus Road knocks the concrete figure the Reds will receive down to around £34m, less than what they paid Newcastle for Andy Carroll.
Sterling started 34 Premier League games last season and was directly responsible (namely, he scored or assisted) 14 goals.
No player in the ranks was able to match these numbers, not even talismanic Steven Gerrard, who started just 25 matches and was involved in ten instances of the opposition keeper being beaten.
Using Sterling’s output in the final third as a cause for detraction then, appears little more than a vindicating smokescreen – Liverpool would’ve been much worse off without him in 2014/15.
By means of replacement, the club took an expensive gamble on Roberto Firmino, a talented Brazilian who has plenty of qualities to succeed in the Premier League, while the money generated from this deal will enable them to strengthen other aspects of their side.
But the reality of who has been the biggest benefactor in this particular transaction will soon be made evident in the devastation Sterling sparks when he teams up with Sergio Aguero, David Silva and co at Man City.