Belfast Telegraph

Next Liverpool buy is vital for Brendan Rodgers after Raheem Sterling sale

By Simon Hart

It is imaginable that among those who represent Raheem Sterling, there was a sense of amusement when Brendan Rodgers was photographed without the 20-year-old at his side yesterday as he tried to explain at a Bangkok hotel why club and player had separated on good terms.

Supposedly, the Liverpool manager was snapped all-too often with an arm around Sterling's shoulders during training sessions, a byzantine attempt, they say, to make it seem like a father was at work, guiding his son on the righteous path: through career and life.

But Sterling (right), who was too tired to play for England last season, was tired of Liverpool, allegedly tired of Rodgers' sidling and tired of being told he was only worthy of becoming the third most valuable player in fiscal terms at the league's sixth-placed club, while the second-placed, Manchester City, were prepared to make him the most expensive Englishman in football history.

Those making the decisions at Liverpool, however, consider that Jordon Ibe has as much if not more potential than Sterling.

So, having secured a five-year deal for someone who wants to be there in May for a fraction of the wage being offered to someone who does not, the £49m in the coffers for Sterling is good business.

The process means Sterling's agent Aidy Ward instantly becomes a millionaire and it is clear he has not given his client the best advice in how to secure his move painlessly - that BBC interview and the no-shows at training leave a sour taste.

Liverpool fans are left to lurch between the consolation of the astronomical figure and the fact that for the second summer running, they have lost arguably their most exciting talent - and this time strengthened a rival.

Liverpool, it will be said, have become a 'selling club', but this ignores the fact that historically, they have not been defined by the players they've sold but by whom they've recruited.

Ever since Kenny Dalglish sent chief scout Geoff Twentyman into early retirement upon his appointment as player-manager in 1985, it is an area Liverpool have struggled in and helps explain why they have not won the league in 25 years.

Rodgers has a mixed transfer record at best during his Anfield time and needs to use his swollen piggy bank wisely if he is not to attract more criticism.

Liverpool's next move - likely to be for Villa's Christian Benteke - must work - and Ibe must be helped to kick on.

Then the Sterling decision will be vindicated.

Get it wrong and Rodgers might not be in the position next summer to defend his transfer record at Anfield at all.

Belfast Telegraph


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