#360view: Liverpool must stand firm on Raheem Sterling

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Future unknown: Raheem Sterling.

Last week, an independent football research company valued Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling at around £58 million. If they decide to sell, it shouldn’t be for a penny less.

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Some – rightly so – would question the worth of keeping a player against his will. Sterling’s attitude and dip in form amid the furore surrounding his future from January onwards, is testament to that.

But this transfer saga is much more than just a youngster chasing money (or titles depending on which theory you follow). It’s about what the sale of Sterling would represent.

The model pressed upon manager Brendan Rodgers from the boardroom in Boston is the famed ‘Moneyball’ philosophy of signing promising talent on the cheap with the hope they’ll reach their potential.

With that in mind, what does it say about Liverpool if they can’t even keep hold of a rough cut diamond 20-year-old with two years still left on his contract?

It smacks of becoming a feeder club to the super rich and Fenway Sports Group, their owners, think it’s worth £50m to risk having that label. And only a bid that ludicrous should tempt them into selling.

When Manchester City rolled in with their opening offer of £25 million plus £5m in add-ons, it was rightly rebuffed. They’ll bid again but what is he actually worth to the two-time Premier League winners?

It depends on two key factors: a) Is Sterling all he’s cracked up to be? And b) How much do they actually need him? First one is simple, yes he is.

If you recall the hype surrounding Chelsea’s Player of the Year Eden Hazard as a 19-year-old plying his trade in France to that of Sterling, there was much more optimism around the Belgium star. Yet, the statistics, namely key passes, assists and shot conversion, say Sterling had a better season than Hazard at that age. Mark the words ‘better season’ not ‘better player’ incidentally. 

So, how much do City need him? With the departure of James Milner to Liverpool, the dearth of home-grown talent at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal is a concern.

Secondly, they’re crying out for pace with an end product and Sterling offers exactly that, though his finishing does need some refining. Jesus Navas has fallen short of his world-class billing but Sterling is a surer bet to be just that.

City’s dire need for home-grown players, a lack of options and a Premier League ready winger with much more to come is worth £50m-plus.

It’s important to remember that true value and market value are two completely different things because arguably City’s opening offer is about right. But Pellegrini knows the market doesn’t give a damn about true value, especially when it comes to English stars.

See also: the prices being discussed regarding Tottenham’s Harry Kane after not even one full Premier League season.

He said it himself last month: “Can you get [Raheem] Sterling? Maybe if you go to Liverpool with £100m you can. If I want an English player in the position of [David] Silva who is there?”

Liverpool hold all the cards with this one. It’s either £50m-plus or he stays put. 

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