There won’t be a better piece of football business all summer than Raheem Sterling’s transfer from Liverpool to Manchester City.
And it’s Liverpool who won the day. It grates that a sulking, moody, over-rated, greedy, feckless footballer has proven once again that players have all the power in football, but at least his club have been richly compensated for the hassle Sterling and his disruptive agent have caused.
To get £49 million for a player who rarely scores or creates and whose left foot is more under-employed than Long John Silver’s is such a great piece of business I’m assuming Barry Fry was involved in negotiations (on the Liverpool side of course).
We’re not talking Luis Suarez here. Suarez, probably the best player I’ve seen in the Premier League, was a devastating loss to Liverpool even at £75 million as he carried some average players (Sterling included) to within a win of the top-flight title.
Sterling on the other hand has much to prove. He has great pace, but what exactly are his other strengths?
Is he a reliable finisher? Is he a reliable crosser of the ball? Has he the vision to create chances for others? Does he even know what his best position is?
The answer to all questions is no, or at least not yet. Sterling works harder than Mario Balotelli, but then so does White Dee from Benefits Street.
City have paid over the odds, presumably in their desperation to keep their quota of English players up for Champions League squad purposes, and presumably because they have £49 million down the back of their oil-stained sofa.
But there is already one sulking, brooding presence at the Etihad Stadium in Yaya Toure (a player happy to stay at City now that he’s realised no other club would pay his exorbitant salary) so why on earth do they want another?
Manager Manuel Pellegrini is not known for his man-management skills or his tactical acumen (‘right lads it’s Barcelona tonight, they love to knock the ball around in the middle of the park so let’s play four in midfield against their five’) and I doubt he has any idea where he will fit Sterling into his team.
David Silva likes to operate in wide areas and just behind a sole striker. He’s better than Sterling who may be stuck on the right wing relying on fading right backs Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta for service.
None of this will bother Sterling who I suspect isn’t bright enough to look beyond his reported £200k per week salary for job satisfaction.
I also suspect he isn’t bright enough to realise that he is now the most expensive English player of all-time.
If he gets his head around that (and for the life of me I can’t) he will come under even greater pressure to perform. Nothing in his make-up suggests he will cope on or off the field.
On balance I’d rather have James Milner in a Premier League squad than Sterling, and I don’t rate Milner at all.