20 Midfielder Manchester City England
Supremely talented, Raheem ended 2014 as English football’s brightest young thing and latest superstar-in-waiting. He’d survived his first brush with the sharp end of the British tabloid media over a bout of tiredness, and things were looking exciting.
But something was wrong, his demeanor on the pitch had changed and his manager seemed to be asking what Sterling felt were the wrong questions. By the end of January it was clear Manchester City wanted him but did he want to go? By April we’d have our answer.
2015 has been…
The interview given to the BBC in April without permission from his employers was a poor choice in the first place, but to then confirm you’re not signing the contract on offer and make it very clear his future was undecided was never going to endear himself to his club or his manager. Brendan Rodgers was careful to not condemn him irretrievably in the media but made some odd choices in when and where Sterling was played. A relationship was strained but not quite broken. Sterling’s form suffered understandably and suddenly football seemed to be the way down the list when discussing him in the press.
As the season was winding down and Liverpool’s push for the Champions League places was obviously coming to nothing, Sterling’s agent gave that interview. We won’t comment directly about his representation but it would be fair to say he finished the season overtaken by circumstance. The crowd had turned on him, his manager was fielding questions as to why Liverpool had trailed off in the season and where Sterling’s form had gone, and he was being discussed at both ends of the spectrum as everything that was wrong with the modern game and brave for wanting more.
The move to City did come, the noise died down and he got back to playing. Looking quite settled in his new surroundings the future’s looking good again and we can now officially talk about his football once more.
A quieter year, we hope. There’s a reason Liverpool feel so betrayed by Sterling - they know how good he is. 20 years old, an England regular, comfortable across a front three, behind a striker or through the middle himself at very little cost to his consistency, this is a player with an almost guaranteed huge future ahead.
He wanted the big stage and he got it. He wanted the most controversial transfer in English football for some time and he got it. He wanted the contract that goes along with the transfer fee and he got it. What next? Prove he was right to push for everything and ignore the grumbling. City fans have taken to him for his obvious desire to join the club despite the consequences and he’s begun brightly for them. He’s not hit his best form yet but he’s well on his way, and that’s encouraging.
With an international summer ahead and a big reputation he needs to take the Euros by the scruff of the neck. He needs to get used to having two defenders tracking his every move and couple his massive talent with maturity. In this list he sits in a small group with Paul Pogba, maybe Memphis Depay, Julian Draxler and a couple of others, in that we’re not talking potential anymore, we know this is the real deal. Might just be a really exciting 12 months ahead…
C+ Another month with City and this may have been a B, got everything he wanted, time to show he deserves it
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