It’s been the British saga for this transfer window: Raheem Sterling wanting out of the Red half of Merseyside. With his 49 million pound move to Manchester City confirmed, Jamir Scrupps feels what the England international wants is all but fair.
Loyalty is a big thing in football. People such as Xavi, Gerrard, Totti and Scholes are heroes to many for being ‘one club players’. The cult of the loyal player is hugely celebrated among fans, however, I struggle to see why a player is victimised when he asks to leave a club.
Why is this? Well, first and foremost, football is not just a game where every player bows down to what the fans want from them. Football is a business. And, like any business, money plays a large part in the motivation of directors, managers, players and the fans themselves.
People may be disappointed to hear that but that’s just how it is. Money talks (as do trophies, but we’ll get to that later).
So, when we think of football from this perspective, let’s look at why Sterling may want to leave Liverpool. Firstly, he has been on £35,000 per week for the last two or three seasons. While, yes, that is more than most Brits could ever dream of earning, one of Liverpool’s main players could easily expect to be on more than that.
Let me ask you this: you’re were earning £7 per hour at your job now. You get headhunted and a new company asks you to join them and they’ll give you £12 per hour. Are you genuinely going to pass up that opportunity because you feel you owe your current employers your loyalty? I’m telling you now; I’d be there without a second thought. People may claim that they are not motivated by money and their values are higher than that. However, I’d reject that claim (I realise this is going into a new argument all together, so I’ll swiftly move on!).
So, with City offering £200,000 per week, what reasoning is there that he wouldn’t take it? I can’t see him sitting on the bench when £49 million has been spent on bringing him in, so he’ll be expecting to start the majority of games.
Next, we move on to the motivation of playing Champions League football. This must be fairly self explanatory. After such a strong 2013/14 season, Liverpool were highly disappointing the following season. Champions League seemed almost a given following the reinvestment of Suarez’s transfer fee. But, apart from a good run around Christmas time, Liverpool failed to build upon the positivity of the previous year.
Some would say (and I wouldn’t argue) that Sterling did not stand out as a star performer when Liverpool were struggling – something you expect to see in your top players – but we can possibly put that down to youth (and let’s not forget he is only 20!).
The best players in the world have to be playing at the top level. He performed well in the World Cup, playing positively and causing problems for Italy’s defence. Hopefully for City, he will be able to do that against Europe’s elite for the next few years.
Again, I ask you: would you turn down the opportunity to work at a higher level than you did before? Would you not want to test yourself to do the best you can? The most ambitious (and clearly, that’s what Sterling is) people do, and that is what is likely to make him successful in the future.
Lastly, we will look to the motivator that all footballers cite when they move to big clubs: the motivation to win trophies.
This has become somewhat of a cliché and a script for players when they earn a big transfer but it doesn’t make it any less true. Everyone involved with a club wants said club to win trophies. You will never be considered a great team if you don’t perform on the biggest stages of all.
Are Liverpool currently competing for trophies? The domestic cups, maybe, but is that enough to entice the world’s best to play for you? No. The Hazards, Suarez’, Sanchez’ and even the Sterlings of the world want to be competing for the Champions League and, at the very least, their respective league titles.
Gerrard has said in the past that he doesn’t regret rejecting Chelsea for Liverpool, saying that loyalty is more important than trophies. I struggle to believe this. Given a second chance, I am almost certain that he would join Chelsea and won the trophies that his quality deserved. Not only this, if Liverpool ever did decide that they needed to cash in on Gerrard, they would have slapped a price on his back and forced him out of the club. If your club doesn’t want you there, you won’t stay. It’s as simple as that. So why show loyalty when the shoe is on the other foot?
So Sterling has got the move that he wanted, City have got the player they wanted and Liverpool have got an excellent price for such a young player with only two years left on his contract.
I’ve seen a lot of people slating Man City for spending so much. And £49 million is certainly a lot of money for a 20 year old, regardless of ability. But the fact is this: City are struggling with having enough home grown players in their squad, especially after letting Milner and Richards leave; clearly their academy is not producing players that Pellegrini sees as having enough quality to compete for places in the starting 11 and Liverpool did not really have any need to sell.
This is a classic case of supply and demand. High demand for young, quality English players and a low supply. Therefore, the price goes up.
Liverpool will come out of this deal smiling – even after Q.P.R take their 20% cut. £40 million can be invested back into the squad (hopefully with more of a mentality of improving the squad for now, rather than for the future).
For Sterling, he has acted as any one of the rest of us would. Earning as much money as possible while it’s available to him, while simultaneously looking to win the accolades that someone who has won the ‘Golden Boy’ award should be expected to win.
There is an excellent book called ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins. In it, he puts forward the idea that no species would survive if they only lived altruistically – there has to be a degree of selfishness. Sometimes people may not like it, but that’s just how it is.
For me, Sterling has done the right thing. A footballer’s career is short and he is right to act as fast as he can, while the opportunity is there to be taken.
Writtten by Jamie Scrupps
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