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.