Where does Raheem Sterling’s future lie?

Talks over Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling’s proposed new contract have been stalled until the end of the season, amid rumours of several clubs expressing interest in the England international.

Sterling’s representative has made it clear that Sterling will resume talks in the summer, with his current deal expiring in 2017, and manager Brendan Rodgers said “I am sure (the situation) will be resolved and the concentration for Raheem is now on his football”.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers insists that the 20 year-old’s best option is to stay with the Anfield club, as he believes Sterling will benefit most from being first-choice in the Liverpool set-up.

Real Madrid and Chelsea have been the clubs heaviest linked with Sterling, but assuming he does leave Liverpool, the question remains as to whether he would make an impact at either club.

Chelsea would appear to be an ‘easier’ team for Sterling to break into, with his versatility opening him up to a variety of roles, but his biggest success has arguably come in the ‘number 10’ role behind the striker, a position currently occupied by Oscar at the Blues.

It is plausible that Sterling could displace Oscar in the Chelsea team, or possibly work alongside him, but Chelsea did bring in winger Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina as competition for Willian on the wing. If Oscar remains the preferred choice, it would be difficult to see Sterling surpassing Willian, Eden Hazard and Cuadrado to start at Stamford Bridge.

It is a similar story for Real Madrid, with the Spanish giants opting for a 4-3-3 system that would mean Sterling having to force his way past one of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema in the pecking order to be played in his preferred attacking role, which at this time does not seem likely, barring a spectacular summer transfer for any of those players.

Rodgers also said in February that Sterling had received an ‘incredible’ offer, but warned that he would not be paid “too much too young”. It is arguable that Sterling’s worth to Liverpool is greater than the rumoured £90,000 per week offer he has been given, especially as other clubs could offer him more.

While staying at Liverpool may not be the most financially profitable option for Sterling, it may well be the best choice to further his career as he moves into his peak years.


England leave World Cup in shame – Change has to happen now

Some have been calling it the worst ever performance by an England team at a World Cup. Some others might not go that far, but the word ‘disaster’ seems apt.

The post-mortem has already begun into the string of dire performances that led to England’s departure, with several pundits and ex-players crying out for a ‘blank slate’ to be drawn in English cricket, if there is to be any chance of success in the future; following England’s third group-stage departure in the last five World Cups.

The entertaining-yet-humbling 15-run defeat against Bangladesh will tell you all you need to know. Bangladesh went into that game with a sense that they wanted to win more than England, and that translated with their deserved victory.

Peter Moores and Paul Downton have been on the end of stinging criticism regarding their positions within English cricket, as well as fending off a campaign spear-headed by serial critic Piers Morgan calling for the return of ousted batsman Kevin Pietersen, after he was controversially sacked from the national side last year.

Captain Eoin Morgan has said he has “no regrets” about England’s poor run in the competition, and he remains defiant about the success of the coaching staff, shifting the blame onto his players: “The personnel we have are the right personnel. We haven’t clicked. We haven’t had guys in form.”

As for Morgan’s future as captain, he admitted that the decision is out of his hands, having taken over from Alastair Cook in December, with limited success on the field.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has not held back in his views surrounding the team either, calling England a “punch bag”, and fellow pundit Jonathan Agnew calls for the need to build the team for the 2019 World Cup around promising players such as Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and James Taylor.

So, what is the answer then? You could argue that further personnel changes within the ECB and the national team setup would bring a long-term benefit, but having an inner stability may also have its merits.

Would Kevin Pietersen’s presence galvanise the team? He is still arguably England’s best player, but the ‘baggage’ that would go with another reinstatement into the team could be too much to handle, and at 34, his time left in the national setup is limited.

Whatever does happen in the near future, it’s likely to ruffle a few feathers in the ECB…