Liverpool and England star Raheem Sterling, has confirmed he rejected an offer from Liverpool that would have paid him about £100,000-a-week, a full £65,000 more than he currently makes.
In the same interview, Sterling acknowledged that Arsenal’s mooted interest in him is “quite flattering.”
“For me it is quite flattering but I try to block everything out of my head. The next game is against Arsenal and I want to do my best. I won’t be hiding.”
It’s an interest response because it could easily be interpreted as saying that Arsenal are a bigger club than Liverpool, hence being flattered. Whilst this is total speculation and clearly Sterling did not say that explicitly, generally when players are flattered by another clubs interest it’s because the club is impressive to said player in stature. Sterling does not make a comment discussing the stature of Liverpool.
The timing of the comment is interesting as well. Liverpool lost Luiz Suarez, a world-class player, and are losing Steven Gerrard at the end of the year, another world-class player. It’s possible the fact that Sterling is witnessing two marquee players leave the club is playing on his mind.
Granted Gerrard is not the player he once was, however being surrounded by players such as Gerrard, in training is certainly appealing for players. You get better by playing against the best and the smartest. Gerrard falls into at least one of those categories still. Sterling acknowledged as much.
“You really want to be working with world-class players day in, day out. It’s obviously left a little dent, these two world-class superstars leaving, but I think we have good players coming through at Liverpool.”
Witnessing two of the clubs best players leaving is discouraging for most players and sometimes leads to irrational or rushed opinions on the matter.
Liverpool have taken a small step back this season, although they have resurged for the most part the past couple months. Sterling may feel reluctant to sign a new deal at Liverpool because he doesn’t feel reassured of long term success there, based on this season.
Arsenal, haven’t necessarily taken a step back, but they haven’t moved forward as expected, when you look at the league table. But, they have shown more ambition in the transfer market the past two seasons, and they have been the best team, league form wise, in England this calendar year.
If, at the beginning of the season, Arsenal hadn’t suffered so horrifically from injuries and World Cup hangovers then they would likely be a more legitimate title contender. That’s a lot of “if’s” and “buts” though, and is why it’s so difficult to win the league.
Now obviously Sterling did not say he wants to go to Arsenal, and I honestly doubt that he will, but his comments say a lot about the his thinking of where Liverpool are.
One thing that is certain though is that his comments will stoke the rumor flames swirling across the footballing-scape, bored with the international break, that Theo Walcott and Sterling could switch places. Like Sterling, Walcott is embroiled in tough contract negotiations and faces the possibility of being sold as to ensure he doesn’t leave for nothing.
This scenario won’t play out as it’s very likely that both will resign with their respective clubs and neither club is likely to be willing to sell to each other.
On top of that, Sterling may find himself disgruntled at Arsenal for the same reasons that Walcott is finding it difficult to get into the starting eleven, and Walcott may not enjoy playing for Liverpool who are teetering in an odd stage of purgatory where they may be contenders in various competitions for years to come or they may not. Something that he has already experienced for most of his career at Arsenal.
At the end of the day, one thing that we have learned is that the international break is boring and that it makes us over analyze players’ auto-responses to silly questions and comments.