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The Sterling Transfer Saga Was a Mess - But He Shouldn't Be Blamed

15/07/2015 17:50 | Updated 15 July 2016

After this, no more writing about Raheem Sterling except to report on his on-field performances, I promise. Well, maybe a little something if it's a quiet day and he gets a really stupid haircut or something, but absolutely no more on the most profoundly irritating transfer saga of the summer.

The person who's the most traditionally sympathetic in this whole situation is Sterling himself. The beginning of this incredibly public split, remember, involved him asking the club to protect him better from negative media attention. Fair to say, over the last couple of months, that he hasn't got his wish.

Between the mass of ex-professionals queueing up to pile in on him and the club's management making it very clear that they aren't in love with his actions, he's also fallen foul of one of the most vicious attack groups known to man. No, not lifestyle columnists, the other ones. Liverpool fans.

Twitter wasn't around when Steven Gerrard was bombarded with threats while he was considering a move to Chelsea back in 2004 and while he's always denied that the threats forced him to stay at Anfield, it was widely reported at the time that fear for his family's safety influenced his decision.

Fast forward just over a decade and they're at it again - this time with threats against Sterling's three-year-old daughter, coupled with a flood of racial slurs and people proudly professing their hope that they see Sterling's Manchester City kit soaked red with his blood. While it's hard to imagine that anybody deserves that treatment, Sterling's done less to deserve it than many.

What exactly is his crime? Turning down a lucrative contract offer because he wasn't happy with his general situation at the club? Not being quite as guarded with his media comments as he should've been? He's 20 years old. Show me a 20-year-old who hasn't said something ill-advised when frustrated and I'll show you a liar.

If you're harsh, that might deserve a tut and a shake of the head. It doesn't warrant a single threat. And just to be clear for the people in the back who don't seem to grasp this - there is not a single football-related thing that warrants a death threat.

Moving on from the fanatics, the club - while not covering themselves in glory with the odd snide remark to the press - have got a fantastic deal at the end of this. £49million for a player as relatively unproven as Sterling is big money, even with the English Player Tax considered.

On the other side of the coin, City don't really have much to grumble about either. The Reds drove a hard bargain, sure, but with the FFP restrictions relaxed, City have a lot of money to play with again. A cheaper deal would've been nice, but not strictly necessary.

Manuel Pellegrini and co can allow themselves to think in the most basic terms now. Two simple questions: will this player improve our team and will he sign for us? If the answer to both is yes, then they can go ahead and splash the cash.

There's little doubt that Sterling will be a positive addition, with his performances over the last 18 months showing him to be at least as good as Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas, if not a level above both of them. Of course, the value of his home-grown status can't be understated either.

The third party in the deal, after the two teams, is obviously Sterling himself, so let's weigh it up on his behalf. He gets to leave Liverpool - a big plus, given the fractured relationship between him and the club. He looks like being paid around £200k a week and while he's said it's not about the money, that's a handy little bonus.

Also, Champions League football. If Sterling wants to be among the world's best by the time he's fully matured and in his prime, he absolutely has to play alongside and against the world's best. Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League once in the last six seasons and haven't even made the knockout stage since 2009. If Sterling wants to win things - and who doesn't - City's a better bet.

The whole situation has worked out perfectly for everybody involved, which is lovely and relatively rare in this business. Can we all agree to just enjoy it, wish Sterling good luck and then forget this whole thing ever happened?

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