Raheem Sterling is a very good player in a very good league. Raheem Sterling may even be great. At 20 years old, the Englishman possess all the natural talents and skills that may someday bring him to the pinnacle of his profession.
Understandably, this potential and the assets he posses make him a very valuable commodity in world football. Such a commodity in fact, that Manchester City made him the highest paid Englishman of all-time, bringing him to the Etihad for what is an astounding transfer fee of $49 million pounds. Furthermore, Sterling is set to make close to $200,000 pounds a week by virtue of having a skill-set that leads itself more to what may be rather than what is already presented.
You see, the funny thing about Raheem Sterling is that he has potential to be great yet hasn’t fully harnessed that potential into anything close to a player who is worth $200,000 a week or $49 million pounds in a transfer fee. The reason Raheem Sterling command so much money is because he has such potential and in a day and age when English-born players primarily suck, he represents the very best that England has to offer now and may offer in the future if everything plays out the way both Manchester City, the FA and the English National Team themselves hope it does.
As one of the premier high-caliber teams in the English game, Manchester City needed a homegrown star. It became inevitable once Sterling and his agent burnt all bridges upon Merseyside that the 20-year old was going to be moving this summer, but nobody expect a deal that would approach roughly $49 million pounds, or $69 million USD for those of us in America. That fee alone puts Sterling at 8th all-time behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zidane and Angel Di Maria and right in front of David Luiz, Kaka and Edinson Cavani.
That’s a ridiculous sub-set of players to be rubbing elbows with considering Zidane and Zlatan are all-time greats and when they transferred, Di Maria, Cavani and Kaka were the very best at their position. Sterling is neither of those things and his purported $200,000 a week salary puts him in the same company as Eden Hazard, a proven superstar in his own right who has taken the potential he had and capitalized on it, unlike Sterling who has shown flashes of brilliance but no consistency.
Thing is, that really doesn’t matter to Manchester City. To them the difference between $20 million or $49 million is peas and carrots. It doesn’t matter because they got the best-available English talent and in a world where English talent has gone the way of the dinosaur and become increasingly rare; the fact they can market, publicize and claim “The Next Big English Thing” as their own is a valuable asset to have. Furthermore, the Football Association, the EPL at large and the English National Team are loving this because the biggest would-be talent is on a major team getting major exposure they can now piggy-back off of.
Sterling playing for Man City on NBCSN every Saturday Morning is a win-win for Manchester City, the FA, and English Football no matter how you slice because it means revenue. Never mind the fact the kid’s talent doesn’t even out.
Quite frankly, English players suck. They had a “Golden Generation” and even that generation never produced anything except early exits in the World Cup and crushing disappointments. Due to league requirements and mandates, teams across Europe and especially those playing in the Champions League need a specific amount of “homegrown players”. For Champions League teams, the rules stipulate that of the 25 players that constitute a team, 8 must have trained in the team’s country of origin for 3 years from the age of 15-21, and of those 8? 4 players must have been trained by the club themselves.
As any follower of the EPL can tell you, that becomes extremely difficult when most of the players who would fit that criteria never amount to anything. You get a bunch of Josh McEacheren’s and Jack Wilshere’s.
A player good enough to start on a Champions League squad while also having come up in an English system is like striking gold to a club in the EPL nowadays. If that player happens to be a god-honest Englishmen, born and bred? He’s a needle-in-a-haystack because not only will he meet all the criteria, but he’s going to be a Public Relations bonanza for you and raise the profile of your club strictly because sooner or later, he’s going to become the “Next Big Thing” or the “Next English Hope” (Get ready, Harry Kane. You’re next.)
It doesn’t matter if he’s truly worth it. You’re not paying for what you’re actually getting on the field. You’re paying for the potential and you’re paying for the ideal. You’re paying for the fact he’s good and trends upwards toward being great. You’re also paying for the fact that he’s a shark in a sea full of minnows, and the face of English football nowadays.
Every time he puts on an English National Team jersey, it’s a win for you because if he does well, people will follow him to your club to see how he progresses or how he does. It goes both ways however, in that if he does really well at Man City, the whole country will get behind him and that is good for the FA and English Football as a whole.
Call it the “David Beckham Effect”, but English players simply aren’t treated with the same mindset. They’re worth is skewed because the country itself is starved for a star. As such, a player who is merely “very good” can morph into “great” seemingly overnight in the eyes of the public and the media. Harry Kane was being called the next Alan Shearer for a month period last year. Raheem Sterling just got $49 million dollars in the hope he becomes otherworldly while being English.
Still, if you’re Man City, you do it because after losing James Milner, you need to fill your quota. Not only did you fill it, but you found yourself a talisman who is merely 20 years old with an upward trajectory and an English passport.
Sure, it cost you a Brinks truck full of money, money he probably doesn’t deserve right now.
That however, is the price you pay for quality.
English, homegrown quality.
Tags: English Premeir League, EPL, Man City, Manchester City, Raheem Sterling, Soccer