Hearing Raheem Sterling giving an exclusive interview to BBC news yesterday was a surprising and welcome addition to my early evening routine of playing Football Manager and eating chocolate.
Putting my tactical plans for my left winger aside and putting down my six pack of Fudge (a very underrated chocolate bar) I began to listen to what Raheem had to say.
With the recent speculation over his contract still at large it seemed the 20-year old was set to put the record straight and appease all Reds fans watching.
After around five minutes as the interview was approaching its end, it became clear that you couldn’t take too much from it. The set up to the interview was that Raheem wanted to dispel any thoughts that he was a money grabbing kid but the outcome, potentially, painted a different story.
His admission that he turned down a £100,000 a week contract added to the claims that his main focus was money, putting him into the category of the stereotypical footballer. Upon this admission it was hard not to think otherwise, immediately believing that his advisors don’t have his best interests at heart, interests that could make him an Anfield legend.
Whenever you hear that a footballer doesn’t have money as their sole aim it’s a welcoming statement. It’s possibly one that you don’t fully believe as you’re sure the club’s PR guy, or girl, is in their ear telling them the right things to say the whole time. Or maybe the pack of Fudge’s have just gone to my head.
However, with Raheem’s interview yesterday it led you to think that if money isn’t the issue, what is it?
If an attempt to allay Reds fans fears it failed spectacularly.
Maybe his audience wasn’t specifically those dressed in Red, instead those in the footballing world who believe that his ego could outweigh his vast potential. Either way it left more questions than answers.
Thinking of it logically, here’s a 20-year old who is about to finish only his third season in professional football. Despite one of the most talented young players to feature in the first team for a long time, his age and development still has to be taken into account. Perhaps seeing the example of Fernando Torres upon leaving L4 will be incentive enough for him to extend his stay.
If his reasons aren’t concerning money and more about trophies then you have to question his short term memory in some way. This time a year ago he was integral in a side that was storming (albeit on slippery surfaces) towards a league title. This campaign hasn’t followed suit but there’s enough promise in the team and manager to warrant belief that another title shot isn’t too far off again.
Does he believe in the club’s future as positively as those he bumps shoulders with on a daily basis? Brendan Rodgers for one has always remained upbeat on our prospects in this season and those beyond it.
The hope for this interview was to leave any talk of contracts until the end of the season, an aim I’m sure will be secured, and let Raheem concentrate on his football. Those who have reacted a tad negatively towards the young man during this time may point to the fact that, so far at least, he hasn’t shown this talent over the course of a full season.
Last season we only really saw the best of him post-Christmas where he was deadly alongside Sturridge and Suarez. This season, admittedly having a shorter pre-season than most due to the World Cup, his form has been in and out.
There’s no doubting his talent and dazzling promise and come the summer he may extend his contract for a number of years to come. The delay in proceedings however has caused Liverpool fans to worry slightly over one of their top talents.
In the meantime I’m going back to my left winger and Fudge’s. See you in two and a half years.
By Michael Williams