Can Liverpool Hold On To Raheem Sterling?

It’s been months and Liverpool Football Club and English starlet Raheem Sterling have been locked in talks over a contract extension with both parties intent on not blinking first.

Liverpool have offered the 20-year-old forward “an incredible deal” according to the Liverpool manager but, with reports emerging that Sterling is postponing negotiations until the end of the season to focus on his football, many believe that Sterling could be off for a price well below his market value.

This is not an unfamiliar situation for Liverpool, earlier this year Liverpool stalwart Steven Gerrard decided that the time was right to pack up his bags and head off to MLS ending his 26-year association with the club. Gerrard revealed had Liverpool offered a contract in the summer rather than in November he would have gladly signed on until his duly retirement.

However, Liverpool’s contractual negotiation with Raheem Sterling is more salvageable, but complacency has plagued the Merseyside Reds for years.

The recent spat between Liverpool and Arsenal over Luis Suarez luckily ended with them holding on to the Uruguayan for one more season, where he almost fired them to their first league title in decades, before eventually selling him to FC Barcelona for a much more palatable fee.

Before the recent upturn in form of Phillipe Coutinho, who recently signed a new contract, Raheem Sterling had been the player of a very docile first half of the season. Liverpool will be wary of Sterling’s form as the Jamaican-born winger has since stalled. A pause from negotiations may be the answer for Sterling to pick up where he left off.

Still just 20, Sterling has attracted the attention of European heavyweights such as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich but the recent weeks have shown that he may still be well off the abilities of those such as the Cristiano Ronaldo’s and Thomas Muller.

On the other side of the argument, Liverpool may want to hurry contract negotiations with Sterling if history is anything to go off of. The resolution in Coutinho’s contract saw the Brazilian playing like a player possessed, but also when Xabi Alonso confirmed that he would see out the end of his contract during the 2008-09 season he settled into the Liverpool midfield and produced his best season under Rafael Benitez’ Liverpool with the Reds narrowly missing out on the league title.

To be fair to Raheem Sterling and the current Liverpool, Xabi Alonso was already a seasoned professional who had just won the European Championship with that legendary Spain squad while Sterling is still learning his trade at club currently finding its feet with a young team and a young but determined manager.

So is it much ado about nothing? Will Liverpool and Raheem Sterling be walking off hand in hand into the sunset? The best long-term solution may be well be to delay further negotiations and hope that both parties may be willing to concede objective bargaining chips or be the ready for spilled tears from not blinking.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)