May 25th, 2016
OpinionJohn Aldridge

Aldo - Sterling's contract dispute is vile

John AldridgeBy John Aldridge
Raheem Sterling refusing to sign new Liverpool contract
Raheem Sterling refusing to sign new Liverpool contract

Raheem Sterling's unedifying contract dispute with Liverpool symbolises everything that is vile about the modern game – and I suspect it will end with this talented young boy being moved out of Anfield by his handlers.

Sterling and his financial advisers have apparently decided a Liverpool contract offer of around £100,000-per week is not enough to satisfy their needs, and I just can’t get my head around what our game is coming to if that version of events is accurate.

Anyone with any sense will realise that Sterling would be wise to stay at Liverpool for another few years and develop his talents under the manager who has put him on the world stage in Brendan Rodgers.

Then, if he proves himself to be good enough, mega money moves would be more realistic – but surely not at this formative stage of his career? A rising star of the game needs to bide his time and build his career in a sensible manner, but that doesn’t seem to matter when money is the deciding factor.

His financial advisers – and I won’t call the people looking after Sterling ‘agents’ because those guys tend to look after their players rather than offer crap advice – are demanding that he is put on par with Daniel Sturridge in wage terms, even though Liverpool’s lead striker is much more experienced and has proved himself at the top over a longer period.

This is me talking as a football man and thinking about what is best for this young man’s future, yet the people who are giving him promises of the kind of money he could get if he follows their advice are singing from a hymn sheet that does not have space for such sentiment.

I bet Sterling’s people have been taped up by another club and know what kind of money is on offer if they can get this kid to move this summer, as that can be the only reason they have decided to reject the huge contract offer Liverpool have made to this 20-year-old.

You may have seen stories in the newspapers linking Raheem with a move to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – and that kind of talk has clearly turned the kid’s head. Well, it wouldn’t surprise me if his advisers planted those tales because it is a classic tactic when you are trying to engineer a big transfer.

Don’t forget, these financial advisers don’t make too much money when they secure their player a new contract and a nice pay rise at a club where he is making good progress.

No, the big money will roll in if they can get him out of Liverpool and get a percentage of a transfer fee. They don’t care about his development as a player or what is right for the boy in terms of his moral obligation to show a bit of loyalty to the club that put him on the map.

It means we get a messy stand-off. Here is a kid who has been nurtured into a position in the game where he is considered to be one of the Premier League’s rising stars, and is not happy with mere £100,000 a week. It’s horrible to see and Liverpool fans are not having it.

Sterling has been dreadful in his last few performances and it’s clear that the whispers in his ear about what he could earn if he moves this summer is affecting his commitment to the cause. Well, Liverpool supporters have picked up on this and they are ready to turn against him.

Raheem was not alone in under performing in the defeat against Manchester United last Sunday, as the whole team were poor, but he was the one targeted for criticism from Liverpool supporters.

The Anfield faithful are no fools and they can see what is happening with Sterling. He has lost his focus and is not the player he was before this contract argument flared up.

I’m sure his advisers would be delighted to see Raheem getting a few jeers from Liverpool fans as that would probably hasten his move out of the club and, while we can hope that common sense eventually comes to the surface in this debate, my suspicion is that won’t happen.

Liverpool boss Rodgers (above) is right to suggest giving a kid of Sterling’s age a ridiculous amount of money is liable to see him lose the fire in his belly and fail to realise his potential, but the financial men in this story don’t give a damn about that.

They have their paws on Sterling and they want to cash in their chips now. That means this talented kid may be making a move that will be bad for his future and, if that happens, it will sum up all that is rotten in the modern game.