So Liverpool didn’t wait long to spend that Raheem Sterling money, using most of it to sign Christian Benteke from Aston Villa, in a transfer that more than anything might define and decide Brendan Rodgers and his tenure at the club.
Those comparing Benteke to Mario Balotelli (who cost half of what Benteke is costing; £32.5 million). Benteke isn’t the lazy but sometimes brilliant player Balotelli is. Yes, he isn’t Daniel Sturridge or Luis Suarez, but he’s more mobile than Balotelli and other forwards, presses a lot more and is a proven scorer for a number of years in England despite the difficulties of playing at Villa Park in recent years.
Benteke has scored 42 goals in 88 matches for Villa since arriving from Belgium in 2012. The 24-year old is part of the new Golden generation in Belgium, but was actually born in Kinshasa, capital of what used to be Zaire and is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Will he be the anchor around which Liverpool play like they did in the 2013-2014 season? Truthfully, style doesn’t have to be a big part of the equation. Simply being a legitimate top 4 club, and simply playing better than they did last season, while Benteke erases the failures and disappointments of the 2014-2015 season, will be a partial reward.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling…
Raheem Sterling, the £49 million elephant in the room, isn’t apologizing for how things ended between him and Liverpool. But he also doesn’t make much sense when he talks about regretting how things turned out to be (mostly because of him and his agent), and thinks that he’s on good term with everyone at the club.
I was a bit disappointed how I left. That was the main problem I’ve had with the situation – how I’ve left it with Liverpool. I’m good with everyone at the football club, the manager, the players and I wish them well for the new season. But it was really disappointing how it did finish off.
He got booed by fans in Australia while he was sitting in the viewing box during Manchester City’s friendly match. It doesn’t compare to the reception he’ll receive at Anfield when Manchester City come to play there this season.
The thing about Sterling and other players is that they refuse to admit that they’re leaving for money. In almost every profession in the world, making more money somewhere else is a legitimate reason for leaving. In football it gets more complicated because of the loyalty issue that might or might not exist any more.
But Liverpool fans will forever see Sterling as someone who got his head full of ideas and money with the help of his agent. Nothing he says will make them view him as the victim or sympathetic character in this story. Sterling hasn’t had enough of a career at Liverpool to be forgiven in a few years. He hasn’t played enough, achieved enough.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto had an interesting interview a few years ago about his motivations. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea as far as personality is concerned, but he hated hypocrisy, and football fans do to. Instead of speaking cryptically about wanting to win titles and other nonsense, simply say it’s about the money and nothing more. Maybe you’ll be resented for a short while, but you’ll be telling the truth, and you’ll come out better than how Sterling is looking right now after leaving.
P.S. He didn’t force his way out of the club. Without Liverpool getting the kind of offer they were looking for, he would still be busy faking injuries and illnesses, not wearing the City blue.