Raheem Sterling has reportedly told Liverpool he does not want to be included in the club’s pre-season tour to Australia and Asia as he looks to force through a move to Manchester City.
The Reds are due to fly out to Bangkok on Sunday but the wantaway winger has informed Brendan Rodgers that he thinks it’s in everybody’s best interests if he is not in the travelling party. He may have a point, although that won’t cut much ice amongst the club’s supporters who see this as further evidence of Sterling being a bad apple.
Sterling is not the first to act in this manner and he won’t be the last. Only last summer Dejan Lovren pulled a similar stunt to force Southampton into selling him to the Reds and Liverpool are no doubt expecting Christian Benteke to make enough waves at Aston Villa that the Midlanders will soften their stance and listen to offers below their £32.5m valuation.
It doesn’t reflect well on Sterling of course, but it’s become apparent in recent months that he doesn’t particularly care how he is perceived, he just wants to get his own way.
He is desperate to force a move away from Anfield but despite bold claims from his agent that every club in Europe would want him, only City are showing any genuine interest in him with everybody else being put off by the Reds’ £50m valuation. For all the talk of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, City are the only ones showing a serious desire to sign Sterling.
The Telegraph this week reported that Sterling is in line for around half of his agent’s cut from the deal, which would work out at around £4m. Little wonder then he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the 65k a week he’s been missing out on since he rejected Liverpool’s last offer of around 100k a week.
Liverpool’s public stance is that they are happy for him to stay and will only sell for £50m, but having already spent more than that amount on new players this summer the reality is that they almost certainly need to move Sterling on if they are to be able to also land the top goalscorer they desperately need.
With Roberto Firmino now on board and the Times’ Tony Barrett reporting that Barcelona’s Pedro and Real Madrid’s Denis Cheryshev are being considered as replacements for Sterling, there seems little point in keeping a de-motivated player who is unlikely to even make the team, even if his current 35k a week salary does not put too much of a dent in the club’s coffers.
Teaching Sterling a lesson by having him spend a year out in the cold and possibly missing out on the European Championships next summer is an appealing prospect to many fans, but the club would surely be cutting off their nose to spite their face if it meant being unable to sign a striker because of it.
From City’s perspective, it makes sense to get the deal done as quickly as possible to allow Sterling to settle in before the season kicks off. It doesn’t suit anybody for this to be allowed to drag on and if Sterling refusing to join the club’s tour speeds things up then that’s surely best for all parties, even if his reputation takes a further battering as a result.