With the final match of a disappointing and injury-riddled season only three days away, a host of wealthy clubs have reportedly entered the transfer race for Liverpool striker Raheem Sterling.
The 20-year-old Englishman’s picked up 13 goals and nine assists across 52 appearances in all competitions for the Reds this season, acting as the point of attack with Daniel Sturridge sidelined for all but seven matches due to injury.
Sterling’s uptick in production and his importance to manager Brendan Rodgers’ side have equally increased his wage demands and interest from clubs around the world. And in a messy battle of words that has spilled into the public eye at various points of the season, Sterling has tested Rodgers’ and the Reds patience even though they’ve openly stated they aren’t interested in moving him away from the Anfield.
But with deep-pocketed clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, and Manchester City all showing interest, Liverpool may have to consider meeting Sterling’s demands or accept high bids for his services.
According to Daily Star, the Reds canceled contract talks with Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward after his comments to the Evening Standard. Ward reportedly said his client turned back an offer of £900,000-a-week wage from Liverpool and that he plans to leave Merseyside.
With the Blues, Red Devils, and Gunners circling, Liverpool officials were evidently angered by Ward’s words, which essentially revealed their hand during the sensitive negotiations.
That report came a mere two days after the Star revealed Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho were willing to offload both Oscar and Juan Cuadrado in order to raise the funds necessary for the £50 million-rated Sterling. The Blues are hoping to fend off the possible offers from Arsenal and City.
United and manager Louis van Gaal, whose reportedly been handed a transfer purse of more than £100 million to spend this summer, inquired how much it would cost to pry Sterling from Liverpool, Telegraph reports. The Reds, however, “rebuffed” United’s attempt to gauge Sterling’s market price.
Throw Bayern Munich into the mix and Liverpool has a feeding frenzy on their hands. The Bundesliga giants are interested in adding Sterling as the replacement for veteran Franck Ribery, according to Daily Mail via Bild.
Munich manager Pep Guardiola reportedly asked his brother Pere, an agent, to contact Ward as he’s unsatisfied with Ribery appearing in only 15 Bundesliga matches this term.
Selling off Sterling to one of their biggest rivals is far less than ideal for Liverpool, but his value may never be higher than right now and the Reds could parlay the funds into several scorers expected to hit the transfer market this summer.
Earlier this week, The Star reported Aston Villa is prepared to offer Queens Park Rangers £15 million for striker Charlie Austin, which would obviously up the price on Liverpool’s widely reported interest in the 25-year-old scorer. Though, by selling off Sterling to the highest bidder the Reds could easily trump the Villans. Austin's poured in 17 goals, fourth-best in Premier League, and five assists this term.
Liverpool could also one-up Villa for winger Christian Benteke, who former Red John Barnes told Talk Sport would be a “great signing.” Citing Sturridge’s unsure return date from hip surgery, Barnes said Benteke could give Liverpool the “presence” they’ve lacked up front in the attack.
Netting an incredible 11 of his 13 total goals in the last 10 Premier League matches, Benteke has singlehandedly kept Villa away from relegation and it explains why the Reds are content to sign the 24-year-old to a £100,000-a-week wage, according to Talk Sport.