Liverpool’s match against Reading last weekend was one of the few all season in which they’ll be heavily expected to win. With an incredibly short list of attacking players, Liverpool’s greatest challenge (scoring goals) just became even more difficult.
Enter Raheem Sterling.
The teenage winger has burst onto the scene this season thanks Liverpool’s summer roster purge that left the club short handed even before Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly suffered long term injuries and Daniel Agger missed three early matches thanks to a red card in the season opener. Sterling has stepped and shown that he is capable of holding his own on the biggest stage in England. He’s technically gifted and seems to have a great feel for what Brendan Rodgers is trying to accomplish at Anfield. He’s only going to get better with time. If he continues to improve at a steady rate, he’s going to start attracting attention from bigger clubs by the time he turns 20.
Here’s where things start to get tricky. On the one hand, Liverpool have been searching for a young, up and coming star. The last few years have seen the club bid farewell to older veterans like Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Sami Hyypia, and so on. Current Reds Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard have been true talismans for the club and are also on their way out the door in the next few years. Liverpool have been searching for a young star to take the reins from Captain Fantastic for a long time. Raheem Sterling appears to be that player.
But on the other hand, John Henry and Fenway Sports Group have made it clear the club will not be splashing cash on big name signings anytime soon; or at least for the foreseeable future. Henry and FSG come from America, specifically baseball, where young up and coming stars are ultimately sold off to bigger teams to help the selling team stay afloat financially. Rarely does the star player stick around with a smaller club. Liverpool have started shifting to a “smaller club” in that respect. If they are no longer willing to pay for big name stars, then they have to find another use for their money. No doubt, Henry and FSG intend to reinvest in the youth system in an effort to bring in talented young players internally on the cheap.
And so the question remains: What will Liverpool do if Sterling continues to blossom and bigger clubs come calling. Do they hold onto him long term and make him the new star? Do they sell him off and reinvest the money in an effort to churn out three new Raheem Sterlings for the future? The decision may be a few years away, but it’s still going to be difficult. Personally, I’d like to see the club hold onto Sterling. Of course, I’d also like to see the club sign a big name striker, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Only time will tell what will happen.
In the meantime, Sterling has another chance to shine as Liverpool travel across town to Goodison Park for a date with Everton on Sunday. At this point trying to guess the Starting XI is like shooting fish in a barrel. There’s only so many players Rodgers can justify starting in a local derby match. As for a prediction? Everton have done the impossible by selling their own crop of Raheem Sterlings over the years (see: Wayne Rooney) and every year they seem to hang around the Top 8. This year is no different and beating them will be a tough task, especially now that their supporters can smell blood in the water with regards to Liverpool’s poor start to the season. This is Everton’s chance to legitimately steal the spotlight from Liverpool. Rodgers and Co. will be lucky to survive.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Liverpool
“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”