Raheem Sterling has been a revelation for Liverpool ever since bursting on to the scene when he was given his debut by an audacious Brendan Rodgers against the Champions of England, Manchester City, in Liverpool's second league game of the season.
The youngster replied to that faith in him in similar vein and has added the flair that the Liverpool attack has needed while Rodgers tries to think about where will the goals come from.
At 18 Sterling has still a lot to learn, but there is potential galore within the kid. With only 16 matches of the campaign played so far and tonnes of improvement already seen in Sterling, there is still a lot of time and scope to increase vulnerability of the opposition before the next season starts.
The Reds currently have 22 points in 16 games. That kind of form makes you wonder whether they will even be in the hunt for Champions League places, let alone dream about the League title. However, January is just around the corner, and the Reds only need a great striker to start scoring goals and moreover finishing their chances consistently.
To add to that, I think Rodgers has turned a corner in the last couple of games. Some of the play against Udinese was simply sublime and West Ham were chasing shadows in the first half when it was virtually Glen Johnson versus them.
The way West Ham came back and pressed Liverpool in possession made the game more difficult, and if you had asked me if Liverpool would have won in seasons past, my answer would have been no. Even teams under Rafael Benitez, of whom I have been a great fan, used to capitulate under that sort of pressing and physical play. The Reds did well to turn it around in that case.
And what was it that raised their spirits? It was Sterling exchanging a one–two and then threading a perfect ball for Joe Cole which he did not even have to control, such was the weight on it. Even Xavi would have been proud of that pass. It was exquisite.
I remember the commentators raved about Cesc Fabregas when he set up Thierry Henry once against Liverpool with a through ball. Well, Sterling's effort was much tougher, and considering that passing is just one aspect of Sterling's game, you can see why Liverpool need to hold on to him if they are to ever compete for the title again.
Sterling made more of his name when he struck five in one game, but I don't know whether people remember that he also struck a classic winger's goal against Bayer Leverkusen in August in one of Liverpool's friendlies.
Sterling and Suarez behind someone like Huntelaar can indeed be a recipe that lands consistent wins for Rodgers and starts the Liverpool juggernaut rolling. The key question is: How much will the Reds spend in January and the next transfer window?
If upwards of 60 million pounds are spent on this team, and wisely, then there is no reason why Liverpool cannot challenge for the title in 2013–14. One of the main personnel in that journey will still decisively have to be Raheem Sterling.
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