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Rob Burnett: Have Sterling and Delph just made the biggest mistake of their careers?

23 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: Have Sterling and Delph just made the biggest mistake of their careers?

Two of England’s hottest young prospects are rolling the dice by moving to the Etihad, but will the gamble pay off?

In the last five years, Manchester City have spent big on four English players (if you don’t count Richard Wright or Hargreaves – and why would you?).
 
James Milner had a fine time, playing regularly and winning the Premier League twice in the process.
 
But the other three?
 
In 2010 Adam Johnson was considered one of the brightest young English talents in the game. His left-wing position meant even then as a 23-year-old he was being talked about as the long-searched for ‘solution’ for England.
 
Manchester City paid £7million to prize him from Middlesbrough.
 
After 73 Premier League appearances in two years, he was sold to Sunderland for £10million in 2012. He hasn’t played for England since.
 
The same summer Johnson left City, the club shelled out £12million to sign Jack Rodwell from Everton.
 
At the time, the midfielder, then just 20-years-old, was being talked about as a potential heir to Steven Gerrard’s England midfield throne. Indeed, he had already played for his country, which was the natural progression for a man who had represented England at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level. He was already seen as one of the brightest young English talents in the game.
 
He stayed for two years at City, making just 16 Premier League appearances in total, before he was sold to Sunderland for £10million in 2014. He too, has not played for England since.
 
There was a time when Scott Sinclair was heralded as one of the brightest young English talents in the game.
 
After a stand out season for Swansea when he finally appeared to be harnessing his talent after years of loan spells, he too arrived at Man City for a £6.2million fee, also in the summer of 2012.
 
Three years and just 13 Premier League appearances later, he has been shipped out of the club – though this time, disappointingly for fans of consistency, not to Sunderland, and not for £10million, but instead to Aston Villa for £2.5million.
 
Sinclair played for England at every age group from U17 to U21, and for the Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics. That was his last involvement in any international squad.
 
All three left clubs where they were playing every week to join City. All three ended up spending more time on the bench than on the pitch and all were eventually sold on, having lost their early career momentum and their place – or chance – in the England set-up.
 
No doubt all three will have fine careers (Johnson’s current legal difficulties aside), but there remains the feeling that had they been playing every week, developing and pushing on, they could have achieved more.
 
They took a risk – and yes, the money – to join City. It did not pan out.
 
And so to this summer. So far City have signed two players.
 
One, Raheem Sterling, is already a regular for his country and is considered one of the brightest young English talents in the game (you can see where I’m going here). He has just joined for a staggering £49million. He is just 20-years-old but is already the most expensive English player in history.
 
The other is Fabian Delph. When he left his first club Leeds to join Aston Villa in 2009 he was already being described as one of the brightest young English talents in the game (you can definitely see where I’m going, now). He has played for the England U19, U21 and senior sides and now, after two of the most spectacular u-turns in football history, he has joined Manchester City for £8million.
 
No doubt Sterling will get to play – he is too expensive not to. But can the same be said for Delph? With Sinclair and Frank Lampard gone, City need English players in their ranks so they don’t fall foul of UEFA’s homegrown quota.
 
But they only need them in the squad. And the club has shown in the past that if their English players don’t produce, they will find a someone else who can.
 
Sterling and Delph better hope they fare better than their young English predecessors at City. Otherwise they might be holding up a red and white scarf and smiling for the camera inside the Stadium of Light in a few short years…

Manchester City v Real Madrid

 

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