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Sterling’s reputation will be fine. Fans still welcome contract rebels with open arms.

09 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Sterling’s reputation will be fine. Fans still welcome contract rebels with open arms.

The Mirror's Darren Lewis weighs in on the Raheem Sterling saga

IT IS easy to see Jamie Carragher’s point.

If a player acts up at his current club in order to force a transfer, he could easily go on to do the same at his next one when he is ready to move on.

And yet the Raheem Sterling situation is far from unique. Most, if not all, of the former players pontificating on it will have come across someone that they themselves have played with who has gone about things in a similar way.

To turn things on Sterling is not to recognise the fact that his kind of thing has gone on for years. Far more celebrated players than the 20-year-old England international have enjoyed the adulation of fans even though they have done exactly the same as he is doing, if not more.

Sterling, if you’ve been living in a cave, has asked not to go on Liverpool’s forthcoming tour of the Far East and Australia. He wants to stay in England and sort his future out.

There has been, and continues to be, plenty of tut-tutting about his conduct. As if no player or his representative has become entrenched in this kind of bitter dispute before.

As if no club would ever touch a player involved in the kind of soap opera that this has turned into.

It’s the kind of hypocrisy that characterises football.

Yes, he is under contract and he is obliged to travel out with Liverpool on tour.

In reality, however, it surely makes more sense for the Reds not to allow the situation to overshadow their preparations for the new season.

Sterling has made it clear that he no longer wants to play for the club.

City want him and Sterling wants to go. Leave him in England to train alone, do a deal and move on.

To take him out on tour would be to simply create the circus that surrounded Tottenham’s Gareth Bale when the north Londoners took him abroad two summers ago.

Real Madrid wanted him at the time, Bale wanted to go but Spurs did what Liverpool are doing. They dug their heels in.

The result? Every press conference was dominated by Bale. Then-boss Andre Villas Boas struggled to convince anybody that the wing-wizard was going to do anything but quit for the Bernabeu that summer.

As things reached breaking point Bale also refused to turn up for training in London. He accused Spurs chairman Daniel Levy – who drove his traditional hard bargain – of trying to deny him his dream move.

In the end, surprise, surprise, Bale ended up in Madrid. 

Do we remember him now for stamping his feet and throwing his toys out of the pram? No we don’t. Has it affected his reputation? No it has not.

We remember Bale for scoring the winning goal in the Copa Del Rey Final. Then for scoring in extra time in the Champions League Final to help Real to clinch La Decima – in his first season.

And for leading his Wales team to 10th in the world rankings and the brink of a first major tournament since 1958.

Carragher said this of Sterling yesterday: “He’s starting to get a reputation that could be hard to rid himself of in the future. 

“Are Man City fans looking at the situation and thinking this could be us in a few years?”

The truth is, however, Sterling is following a well-worn path of players gratefully received by clubs regardless of the level of vitriol involved in their contract disputes.

We gush now about the nonchalant skill of Dimitar Berbatov but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy sensationally went public seven years ago after the Bulgarian forced his move to Manchester United.

Levy wrote: “We had a player in Berbatov who had refused to play two games for us, having a detrimental affect on the dressing-room.

“We’d known for a year that the player wanted out of this club.

“We put him on the map, I think he’s an outstanding player, but he signed a long-term contract with this club and I think he should have stayed.

“I had so many conversations with him. He kept saying it was about his ambition to play for Manchester United. It wasn’t a money issue. We offered him a new contract and he wasn’t even interested in discussing it.”

In 2013 Arsenal fans were waiting with open arms to receive Luis Suarez after he accused Liverpool of betrayal and battered the club in the press.

Suarez claimed the Reds had promised him he could leave for a Champions League club if they didn’t finish in the top four and that they were going back on their word by blocking his proposed move to the Emirates.

Twelve months on after failing to force his way out, Suarez assured Liverpool fans he would not put them through another summer of stress. Then left.

“Don’t worry.” he said. “Nothing is going to happen to me.” he said. “I’m very happy and my family is happy here.” he said.

Then, at the World Cup, he bit yet another player, was banned for four months and vilified by the football world.

And yet Barcelona STILL paid £75million for him. Clubs don’t care. Nor do their fans. They really don’t.

Jermain Defoe handed in a transfer request at West Ham less than 24 hours after the club had been relegated back in 2003. He was denied a move and started the following season with an uncharacteristic three sendings off in his first five months of the season.

That didn’t stop Spurs moving in for him in that campaign’s January transfer window. He is now a White Hart Lane legend.

Adam Lallana vehemently denies refusing to play for Southampton to secure his move to Liverpool 12 months ago.

But there are some at St Mary’s who remain well aware of his “unwillingness to see the dream move pass him by” shall we say.

The saga was a long and drawn out one. It saw Liverpool make three high-profile bids to try and prise the midfielder away from the club that fought to keep him.

Lallana has since admitted his regrets over the way that the saga turned nasty. He said: “I’m not stupid enough to think the way I left didn’t leave a sour taste in a few people’s mouths. 

“I regret the way I left. I regret bits and pieces of how it happened and it got nasty. It was sad the way it happened.

“What is true is that when I knew of Liverpool’s interest and that they had put a bid in, I did say to the club it would be my wish if they could negotiate a fee for me to move on.”

Four years ago Cesc Fabregas had no intention of remaining at Arsenal once Barcelona made it clear they wanted to sign him that summer. 

Chelsea’s William Gallas was so determined to move to Arsenal back in 2006 that the Blues claimed he threatened to score against his own team – something the Frenchman strongly denies – if he was made to play for them again.

It goes on and on. 

Five years ago Wayne Rooney had the temerity to publicly question the ambition of Manchester United, no less, as he threatened to leave the club.

“[David Gill] did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad,” he said in a statement.

As the Chelsea and Manchester City circled, the whole thing turned nasty as angry United so-called fans crossed the line and turned up at Rooney’s house. These days he is the club captain.

In August 1998, Dwight Yorke made it clear to then-Aston Villa boss John Gregory that he wanted go to Old Trafford United after Sir Alex Ferguson came in for him.

Gregory famously joked that if he’d had a gun he’d have shot him (how Twitter would rip him apart for that these days!). Yorke’s zest for the shirt dipped so markedly, according to the club, that they had to sell. 

Only last year United defender Marcos Rojo revealed he simply went on strike at his former club Sporting when he thought his move to Old Trafford looked in jeopardy.

Rojo said: “I was in Portugal when my representative told me. He asked me to stay calm but I could not. I started living this dream.

“I could not think of anything else. I would call him every day, but when it seemed the transfer would not happen then I refused to work with Sporting.”

Four years ago Hoffenheim striker Demba Ba responded to interest from the Premier League by refusing to travel to his club’s winter training camp before flying to England to force a move.

Despite failing a medical at Stoke he joined West Ham where he made a name for himself. He has gone on, with moves to Newcastle, Chelsea and Besiktas, to prove he is quite decent.

And when he made it clear that he wanted to leave Turkey this summer, there were English clubs still falling over themselves to sign him.

Why? Because people do forget. People do move on. The acrimony of some transfers is a widely-accepted part of the transfer window. 

Fans accept it, players are not averse to it and football is more used to it than it would care to admit.

Raheem Sterling’s club at end of summer transfer window

11/4 – Man City 2015-2016 Premier League winners

11/4 – Liverpool to finish in the top 4