Signing Sterling would mark a return to the Manchester United glory days
According to The Guardian, Manchester United have made a sensational, and somewhat unbelievable, attempt to capitalise on Raheem Sterling’s contract stand-off with Liverpool by registering their interest in the want-away England international.
Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal spent over £150million bringing in the household names of world football last summer, before spending close to £30million as he made up-and-coming Dutch talent Memphis Depay his first signing of the upcoming window. However, now could be the time to revert back to traditional values and follow the blueprint left behind by Sir Alex Ferguson.
It is all well and good bringing in the likes of Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, who may, or may not, live up to expectations. However, the fact of the matter is Manchester United Football Club have always stood for promoting young, British talent. They have may have digressed from this trend since the retirement of the imperial Sir Alex, but it is about time they return to the core of the club’s former success.
In Raheem Sterling, the Red Devils would be signing a 20-year-old Englishman, who is capable of tremendous things. One would argue he has achieved very little thus far in his career with Liverpool: a miraculous debut season aside – largely spurred on by the insatiable impact of Luis Suarez – he has done very little to cement his status as a ‘key player’ at Anfield. Nonetheless, his current contract showdown is evidence enough of his ambition.
According to the player himself, first and foremost he wants trophies and success, the pay-cheque is a non-commodity. Ambition and the will to success is central to the Manchester United ethos. If he remains true to these values, and develops as many predict, Sterling would undoubtedly prove a tremendous asset to the Red Devils.
Despite the improved performances of Ashley Young throughout Louis van Gaal’s debut season, the right and left-wing roles are positions the Dutchman is widely expected to reinforce over the summer window. We are now approaching the end of his first 12 months at the helm and already he has acted, with maximum efficiency, to secure the signature of PSV Eindhoven wonderkid Memphis Depay.
Widely tipped as the next Cristiano Ronaldo, while drawing comparisons to Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, the Dutch international is expected to occupy a left-wing role at the club for years to come. Not only has he become the youngest player to top the Eredivise scoring charts since former Brazilian international Ronaldo, the youngster also guided his side to a first top-flight trophy in seven years.
As Paul Scholes asserted, throughout his criticism of United’s style of play earlier in the season, the club’s history has been built on attacking football – “United’s history was built on attacking football, which does not always mean that the team kept clean sheets or did not concede chances. Why do you think United have had some of the best goalkeepers in the world over the years? They needed them because the team committed so many players forward.”
In Depay, United are signing a young, exciting talent. Someone who is not afraid to go for goal from the edge of the box, or lose the ball in his attempts to take on two or three opposition players. The 21-year-old forward will arrive with a reputation as one of the most exhilarating prospects in European football, having scored twice at the World Cup in Brazil before netting 25 goals in all competitions this season.
Since the official confirmation of the Dutchman’s switch, Scholes has again had his say. “He has pace, which has always been a feature of great United teams, and has been badly lacking this season at times,” he said. “If he can have anything like the kind of impact Ruud van Nistelrooy made, he will be a great success. For some Dutch players, coming to England can be a difficult transition but this lad clearly has promise.”
With the left-flank accounted for, this leaves the right-wing on the to-do-list for the remainder of the summer. Step forward Raheem Sterling. It is not often that Manchester United fans revel in their north-west rivals misfortune, but on this occasion, I am sure the Old Trafford faithful will make an exception.
The Liverpool youngster, like Depay, possesses an array of tricks and skill, while boasting tremendous pace and strength. He is a player who would bring a pacey-edge to Manchester United’s counter-attacks, while providing a source of inspiration for occasions in which the club are dominating possession, yet struggling to break down the opposition back-line.
With just seven goals and seven assists to his name this season, the Old Trafford faithful would demand a higher production rate throughout the 2015/16 campaign. However, it is easy to forget that he has been played out of position for the majority of the season, falling victim to Brendan Rodgers’ 3-4-3 system. He would undoubtedly relish the opportunity to return to, and star, in an attacking wide-right role at his new club.
It is highly likely that the Englishman will exit the Anfield outfit come the end of the season. Following his agents comments today, and the club’s decision to cancel the youngster’s showdown talks, his reputation on Merseyside appears almost irreparable. The club will still wish to recuperate as high a fee as possible, but this fee will prove a small price to pay in comparison to the asking price of various alternative targets.
He remains a raw talent, there is no doubt about that, but Manchester United could prove a perfect move for the youngster. The club are desperate for added quality out wide, which would almost assure him a starting-role week-in week-out; a status he is, quite truthfully, unlikely to be guaranteed at the Emirates, Stamford Bridge or the Etihad.
To be awarded the title of European Golden Boy is no easy feat. Wayne Rooney was the last English winner of the highly-coveted award, and look how he has progressed. 478 club appearances and 230 goals later, few could disagree with the quality of service the now-Manchester United captain has provided over the years.
Young, English and capable of one day competing at the highest level, signing Raheem Sterling would reinforce all the values that the Old Trafford outfit have traditionally strived to represent.