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Raheem Sterling’s destiny is in his own hands

In light of Jay-Z and an assortment of musical buddies deciding to enter the music streaming industry after purchasing Tidal, it is worth remembering Thom Yorke’s typically robust opinion on the market leader in the area, Spotify. When Spotify celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2013, the Radiohead vocalist expressed his displeasure for music streaming services. “New artists get paid fuck all with this model”. The bands producer, Nigel Godrich, made similar overtones on Twitter, which fellow musician Four Tet echoed. This sparked outrage from some non-artists and fans disputing why such issues would affect those within the fraternity of the music industry.

Some budding artists or fans would literally sell their granny to have a musical career and garner a widespread following. Good and creative music requires a love for the craft and pride in the finished track or album. Live performances are generally better when it’s obvious that the artist is engaged and totally enamoured with what they are doing. Music is art, but like any other form of art, it’s also a business. The writer or producer behind even a moderately successful record should be properly compensated. In the same vein, football shares many common threads with music.

As a sport of mass global appeal, football evokes passion and unbridled joy as much as any form of recreation can ever aspire to. People of all ages, nationalities, race and background participate in the game at various levels and with varying proficiency. Much as FIFA insist that football should be treated the same at all levels, there’s a clear differential between having a weekly kick about with mates on a Sunday evening and training or playing every day of the week for the majority of the calendar year at the elite professional level. The majority of professional footballers reach the upper echelons of the sport through unbridled joy and love

The common misconception is that footballers are privileged to find themselves in a situation where they can make any sort of income doing something most would dream of. It’s probably been mentioned a few times already, but footballers like accountants or doctors or chefs, are entitled to have ambition and expect reward for their efforts. Football at the highest level is a gravy train of sponsorships and corporate wealth, but teams and players are still what the consumer is shelling out cash to watch. In the financial juggernaut that is the English Premier League, the gargantuan television deal provides clubs with more disposable revenue than ever before. The players themselves rightly should anticipate receiving a cut of the mass sums, which is why it is understandable for Raheem Sterling to reject Liverpool’s current advances regarding a new contract.

At 20 years of age, Sterling is already one of the key cogs in Brendan Rodgers’ team. Blessed with speed, agility and natural technique, Sterling has the tools to become a truly exceptional player. He has shouldered much of the expectation in the post Luis Suarez months, becoming an increasingly pivotal figure. The rumoured figure Sterling is purported to have rejected is somewhere around £100 grand a week. While that is obviously a sizeable amount of money and is financial utopia for most people, in relation to football it is nothing extraordinary. Some of Sterling’s contemporaries command in excess of that.

His Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge signed a new and improved contract in October as reward for his consistent excellence, believed to be worth £150 grand weekly. Sturridge has of course missed large chunks of the current campaign through repeated injury issues, but Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group have a policy of greeting improvement with gradual financial incentive. There can be little argument that Sterling has been Liverpool’s most important attacker, with him, not Sturridge, filling the vacuum left by Suarez in 2014-15. The question must be whether Liverpool consider Sterling as important as Sturridge.

On top of the obvious financial reward on offer, a footballer of Sterling’s obvious ability surely has ambition to reach the top of his profession. The very best strive to win trophies and accolades, and Sterling will undoubtedly be no exception. It’s debatable whether or not Sterling can attain those goals at Anfield. Regardless of their chequered history, in recent years, Liverpool have regularly sold their best player to some of Europe’s super powers. Xabi Alonso went to Real Madrid, Javier Mascherano and Suarez to Barcelona, and Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea. All left Merseyside for more immediate opportunity to win silverware.

With recent history suggesting that Liverpool are now a stepping stone for elite players on their way to greatness elsewhere, the smart money would be on Sterling moving in the next few years. The prospect of guaranteed football under the guidance of a progressive coach in Rodgers would be beneficial to a budding superstar and could persuade Sterling to sign an extended deal in the summer. Alternatively, Sterling has two years left on his current deal. He could see out his existing contract and, with two more years improvement and experienced behind him, become the most sought after free agent in football. Sterling has his destiny in his own hands. That’s not greedy, that’s just intelligent.

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