Raheem Sterling and Stars' New Deals Not Worth the Paper They're Written on

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentAugust 15, 2014

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling (31) is defended by Manchester City's Dedryck Boyata (38) in the second half of a Guinness International Champions Cup soccer tournament match  Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in New York. Liverpool won the game 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Raheem Sterling is to be offered a “significantly improved contract” at Liverpool to fend off interest from the likes of Real Madrid, if Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail is to be believed.

Despite having three years left to run on his contract, Mokbel claims Liverpool will offer the 19-year-old a lucrative new deal to tie him down for longer.

It is completely understandable that Liverpool will be getting anxious about being able to hold onto their best youth talent in years after a sensational year.


Raheem Sterling

Ross Dettman/Associated Press

Until December last season, Sterling was really struggling. He looked unintelligent and sloppy in his play. 

Amid speculation that he was to be loaned out in January, Brendan Rodgers kept his faith in the teenager, and a remarkable transformation occurred.

Absorbing footballing education from talents of Luis Suarez, Sterling found himself as a player. Maturing quickly, he became arguably Liverpool’s most important player of the second-half of 2013-14. 

Stunning runs down in the right wing left Premier League defenders for dead, whilst his versatility to play in a central role was key to some of Liverpool’s late-season victories. 

He became a grounded and confident character, showing no frustration at being made to fight for his place during rotation with Philippe Coutinho.

Since Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Hull City at the back end of November, Sterling scored nine goals in 25 Premier League appearances and made a vital contribution to the team with 43 chances created, according to Squawka.

One of England’s only positives from their dreary World Cup campaign in the summer only went to enhance his reputation, it is therefore no wonder that he is catching the eye of Europe’s elite clubs.

Rewarding Sterling with more money and a longer contract seems the sensible option from Liverpool—after all, there’s no doubt we’ve only seen a glimpse of his potential so far. 

But how much are footballers’ contracts actually worth? In an age where player power seems to be growing, will tying Sterling down to a longer deal actually end of benefiting Liverpool?



Luis Suarez 

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 14:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool faces the media during the presentation as new Ambassador for 888poker on May 14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

In August 2012, Suarez has four years left on the five-and-a-half-year deal he signed when arriving at Liverpool in January 2011, yet he signed a new “long-term-deal,” with the club trebling his wages, as per BBC Sport.

Yet less than a year later, Suarez was attempting to force a Liverpool exit, claiming he had the right to leave Merseyside, as per Sid Lowe of The Guardian.

It was an ugly transfer saga that Liverpool temporarily won until he was eventually sold to Barcelona this summer. But what value was there in his contract?



Wayne Rooney

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United in action during the Pre Season Friendly match between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on August 12, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Similar occasions of players pressuring their clubs to break their contract early, or be forced into a pay rise, leave a black mark on football.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney famously submitted a transfer request in October 2010. Disrupting the club’s season, tensions mounted between the England international and manager Alex Ferguson.

The Daily Mail reported at the time that Rooney had had a “dramatic change of heart” when he signed his new five-year contract. An increase in weekly wages from £90,000 to £150,000 may have had something to do with it. 

Rooney did it again in 2013, throwing a tantrum and was dropped for a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid at Old Trafford. Months of tension followed between himself, the club, Ferguson and new manager David Moyes.

In February 2014, the 28-year-old’s wages were upped to £300,000 per week on a five-and-a-half-year contract, as per BBC Sport. How long until the player beats the club again?


John Henry

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Liverpool co-owner John Henry looks on with wife Linda Pizzuti prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Ge
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Speaking at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Liverpool owner John Henry told an American crowd of his experience of the disregard for contracts in football. 

He explained how he used it to his, and Liverpool’s advantage, during the Suarez transfer saga, as per The Guardian:

Luis Suarez is the top scorer in the English Premier League, which is arguably the top soccer league in the world.

He had a buyout clause of £40m. Arsenal, one of our prime rivals, offered £40m plus £1. What we've found … is that contracts don't seem to mean a lot in England – actually, in world football.

It doesn't matter how long a player's contract is, he can decide he's leaving. We sold a player, Fernando Torres, for £50m, that we did not want to sell, we were forced to.

Since apparently these contracts don't seem to hold, we took the position that we're just not selling.

While Liverpool offering Sterling a new long-term deal may be good PR and increase his transfer fee if sold, what is the real value of the contract in black and white?