Raheem Sterling: Liverpool’s Boy Wonder

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Today brought some very eagerly anticipated news that Liverpool fans have been waiting to hear for the last 6 months or so. The Merseysiders’ boy wonder Raheem Sterling has put pen-to-paper on a fresh 5-year deal with the reds, ending all speculation about his future. Sterling is reportedly going to be sweeping in £40,000 a week, a modest sum of money for a player of his caliber considering the likes of Steward Downing and Joe Cole who are earning more than twice as much as Raheem. But let’s remember, the teen-sensation has only just hit the tender age of 18. Brendan Rodgers has handled this deal expertly, being careful as to not letting Sterling get ahead of himself. The young man still has a lot to prove to his Northern Irish manager and his counterparts, as he has lacked the final ball or end product numerous times this season. But that’s not to say he has under-performed for Liverpool, but rather that his inexperience has got the better of him. With over a decade of good football still ahead of the pacy, dynamic winger, he can only improve. At times, the baby-faced assassin has torn teams to shreds, but just lacked that inch of decisiveness in the final-third. But Liverpool fans have forgiven him for his mistakes and will continue to, because they know he makes up for his mistakes with his desire, determination and true grit for the game.

But let’s not dwell on Sterling’s mistakes, but rather focus on the fact that he has ignited a much-needed creative spark on either wing, as it is usually Suárez who finds himself alone up front in this department. He thrives on being given the ball dozens of times per match, as he is always looking to better his opposing full-back or any other opponent that may stand in his way. His dribbling style is impetuous, the ball looks as if it is a magnet, almost glued to his feet, but sometimes he tries to do too much and ends up losing possession. In 16 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League, he has managed to get only 2 assists and just the one goal. But these figures are a tad harsh on the Jamaican-born youngster. With more experience, he would most definitely have added a couple to that tally.

In recent weeks, Sterling has looked ever so slightly tired, physically and mentally. It is a demanding task for an 18 year old to be thrown in at the deep end almost instantly, with no real gradual introduction to first-team football. He only made 3 substitute appearances last season, each no longer than 10 minutes. So far this season, he has made the most appearances of any player in the Liverpool squad, 26. Many fans believe he needs a few weeks on the sidelines, just to sit back and take it all in. The speedster needs to take a few deep breaths and assess his current performances, so that he can improve on his final ball, something that will inevitably come with age.

What can be said about Raheem Sterling is that the kid certainly has a good head on his shoulders. He has a certain swagger about him, an aura that leads one to believe that his confidence won’t be knocked easily. Born in the streets of Kingston, Sterling honed his skills playing football from a very young age, until emigrating to England at the age of 5. By 10 he had joined QPR’s academy and at 15 he was snatched up in a bargain deal worth £600,00 by Rafa Benitez. If the teenager continues to play as he is, he will have an illustrious career ahead of him. The world is at his feet, and he has the potential to be an English superstar for years to come.

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – January Transfer Window

As the festive period closes in on us day-by-day, managers are readying their cheque-books for the monstrosity that is the January transfer window. This chaotic period lasts for a month, but for some reason clubs like to do their biggest pieces of business on deadline day, which is ludicrous, as a club will blatantly demand more money for their player with such short notice.

Let’s look at the top 5 signings that seem the most likely for this coming window.

1. Daniel Sturridge & Tom Ince – Liverpool

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Ever since Di Matteo took over at Chelsea, he made it abundantly clear that Sturridge was never going to be a part of his plans. The Englishman is known for his lethal pace, but is also very selfish with the ball at his feet. Can play striker or winger, and grabs goals in either position adequately. Would fit into Liverpool’s squad nicely, as they are in desperate need of a goal-scoring winger. Asking Price – £12 million

ImageTom Ince was sold to Blackpool by Liverpool only some 18 months ago Since then, he has been one of the Championship’s most prevalent performers, notching up 13 goals and 9 assists in only 21 games this season, more than his whole tally the previous season. Ince is a creative, skillful winger with an impressive end product. Liverpool moving for the 20 year old is not such a moronic deal as people are making it out to be. The reds are entitled to 30% of his future sell-on fee, a fee negotiated when they sold him to The Tangerines.   Asking price – £6 million

2. Radamel Falcao – Chelsea

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Chelsea are in dire need of a top-drawer striker, and the Columbian striker seems to be the answer to their prayers. ‘El Tigre’ has the full shebang – aerial ability, a killer finish and he is also two-footed. What more could you want? With 21 goals in 15 La Liga games, Falcao is hot property at this moment in time. A deal could be agreed between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid for a sum of £40 million, the deal would most likely see Torres go the other way, returning to his former Spanish club. Asking Price – £40 million (Plus Torres)

3. Loic Remy – Newcastle

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The French pace merchant has been impressing for the last few years in Ligue 1 on a regular basis. His club Marseilles are ready to ship him out, but only for the right price. Newcastle are reportedly tabling an offer somewhere in the region of £10 million. With Demba Ba’s £7 million release-clause in his contract being tested by various top clubs in England, Alan Pardew is ready to seek a replacement. Asking Price – £10 million

4. Daniele De Rossi – Man City

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The Italian midfield-anchor has been linked with Roberto Mancini’s Manchester side for as long as he has been in charge. De Rossi is on the wrong side of 20, but he still is seemingly in his peek. He played a huge role in Italy’s run to the Euro 2012 final. The Roma holding-midfielder could add much needed experience to the Manchester City side, as they lack conviction in the Champions League, partially because of inexperience. Asking Price – £20 million

5. Wilfried Zaha – Arsenal

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The Englishman (born Ivorian) is known for his nimble feet, blistering pace and his final ball. As a winger, he could add more goals and assists to Arsenal’s frontline, as most of their goals are either coming through Cazorla, Podolski and Walcott. And with Walcott’s refusal to sign an extension on his contract imminent, Wenger wants to replace the aspiring centre forward with a similar enough player. Zaha has been hyped up for years in the Championship at Crystal Palace, and it looks as if now could be his chance for stardom. Asking Price – £16 million

Santi Comes Early For Relieved Wenger

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When Arsenal left the tunnel and walked out onto Coral Windows Stadium, they must have thought it was going to be a walk in the park. Literally. But oh contraire, how wrong they were. The London side never got going despite fielding a full-strength team, and Bradford punished Arsenal for their lack of determination in the 16th minute courtesy of a well-deserved goal from Gary Thompson. But these 1-0 leads are seldom easy to defend for the next 70 minutes or so, and Bradford’s fatigue got the better of them in the 88th minute when Belgian powerhouse Thomas Vermaelen rose to the occasion to score a towering header, Arsenal’s only goal of the game. 1-1 and extra-time loomed. Some Gunners’ fans hoped for the best, and held optimism when there was no reason to do so. Others feared the worst. The latter group had their worst nightmare become a reality. After the earlier-hero, Vermaelen, missed his decisive penalty in the shoot-out, Arsenal were left reeling. Bradford were in ecstasy. Two contrasting moods to say the least. On this eventful winter’s night, it almost spelt, and still could do, the end of Arsene’s reign in The Premier League. But one man, a Spaniard, could still save the Frenchman. This player, although slight in stature, has so far this season proved to be Arsenal’s biggest figure, their driving force, their go-to-guy. His hat-trick on Monday at the Madejski emphasized his importance to his new suitors. One would be inclined to say that ‘Santi’ has come early this year for Wenger, and he still has time to help turn Arsenal’s season around, and take it by the scruff of its neck.

The former-Malaga man was being tipped for astronomical success in the Premier League before he had even officially put pen to paper for the Gunners. He was never going to flop for the London side, having been one of La Liga’s most influential players for the past 5 years. Last season, Cazorla finshed as the best player, statistically speaking (via WhoScored.com), that didn’t turn out for either of Spain’s two giants, Barca or Madrid. After bagging 9 goals and 5 assists last season, Cazorla was always going to be a hot commodity in the coming transfer window. It was no secret that Malaga were having huge financial difficulties, and he was one of the first players to jump ship. Cazorla is also known for his free-kick and set-piece prowess. A lethal long-shot, nimble footwork and a sumptuous eye for a pass also within his armoury, and the attacking midfielder had all the traits that were appealing to a highly established yet recently troubled club such as Arsenal. Cazorla also managed to notch up 8 goals outside the box last season, the highest number of goals scored from there in all of Europe’s top 5 leagues. The stage was already set for the 5-foot 4′ magician to burst upon the English scene, all he needed to do was live up to the hype. He has done just that, and a tiny bit more.

If Cazorla keeps up this form that he’s shown for the majority of this season, he could aid Arsenal in their fight to regain that coveted fourth spot, a spot which brings them Champions League football. He already has 7 goals in 21 appearances for the Gunners, almost topping the total amount of goals he scored in La Liga last season. During Wenger’s tenure, Arsenal have never failed to qualify for the Champions League, or get through their group stage. Some achievement, yes, although it is worthless if you qualify for world football’s most prestigious competition, only to crash out in and around the same stage every single year. You may be able to attract quality players, but not the world’s best, if you don’t seriously contend for the Champions League and also the Premier League. With one or two more quality signings, Arsenal could well see themselves in with a shout of progressing even further in the CL, especially with a mastermind like Santi Cazorla at the heart of their mid-field. With Cazorla at the helm, Arsenal may still be able to convince players of a sufficient caliber to abet them in their quest for Premier League and Champions League glory.