When Raheem Sterling announced that he wouldn’t be entering into talks about a new Liverpool contract during last season, his remarks were generally treated favourably by fans and pundits alike. After all, why negotiate for a new contract when the more important stuff is ongoing; you know, the actual football?
The player was keen to clarify that he was not a ‘money-grabbing teenager’ and that he just didn’t want to discuss things until the end of the season. Fair dos, said pretty much everyone.
Fast forward to the end of the season, and (perhaps unsurprisingly given the Reds’ abysmal end to the season), Sterling decided he wanted to leave.
Again, most people would probably say that this was fair enough; if the player wants to leave he has got a right to express his feelings.
Unfortunately for Sterling, from this point onwards, it has been very difficult to look at his behaviour and say ‘fair enough’.
Not only has his agent been busy talking to the media, hyping up a potential move to Manchester City and generally doing everything he can to destabilise the relationship between Sterling and his club, the player himself has failed to turn up to training and point blank refused to go on Liverpool’s pre-season tour.
Furthermore, when pressed on the matter, the Sterling camp seems to have suggested that the issue for Sterling is not necessarily the club itself, but the manager of the club, Brendan Rodgers.
Now, just to be clear, I believe that Sterling is well within his rights to declare his interest in a move, to any club. However, given the fact that the player has two years left on his contract, not only is he not within his rights to demand a move to wherever he likes, but he is contracted specifically to Liverpool, meaning that he needs to comply with all of the obligations that come as part and parcel of being one of their players, earning more money per year than most of us will see in a lifetime.
Sterling is driving his name into the dirt. The speculation is that the move to City is the one that the 20-year old wants, but if you were one of the top brass at Man City, how would you feel about the way that player is behaving?
Happy, as it increases the likelihood that Liverpool will sell the player? Or concerned, knowing that if you do sign the player, you will be taking on a man who is prepared to behave in a thoroughly childish, disloyal and unpleasant fashion in order to get what he wants, despite the fact that at the age of 20, he has access to a lifestyle that eludes the majority of people in the world?
My feeling is that Sterling and his agent are perilously close to the burning their bridges, and although I don’t see what the outcome would be if City pulled out of the chase, a large part of me hopes that this happens. Quite frankly, it would serve Sterling right.