Can Raheem Sterling justify £49m price tag?

Manchester City are about to find out whether Raheem Sterling has the ability to justify his enormous price tag or is just another over-rated young English footballer motivated purely by his bank balance.

City will invest £49 million (€69m) on the fleet-footed and tricky forward in the hope he can provide the sparkle to bring the Premier League trophy back to the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling will become the most expensive English player ever when he completes his move from Liverpool, the club where he made his name before controversially rejecting a new contract.

Liverpool have first-hand experience of the pitfalls of splashing out big money on unproven young English players.

In 2011 they paid Newcastle United £35m (€49m) for striker Andy Carroll but sold him to West Ham United for less than half the price two years later.

City finished eight points behind Premier League champions Chelsea last season and manager Manuel Pellegrini knew he had an ageing group of players.

Sterling’s arrival will inject energy and youthful exuberance to a squad with an average age of around 29, with his quick turn of pace and versatility in attack.

The England winger, who signed for Liverpool as a 15-year-old from Queens Park Rangers in 2010, can operate on the right, left or down the middle and will give City the option of playing with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 formation.

If Sterling can strike up the same telepathic partnership with City striker Sergio Aguero as he did with Luis Suarez during the Uruguayan’s spell at Liverpool, then Pellegrini’s side should be more than a match for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

However, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes City have paid over the odds for Sterling despite his potential.

“At Liverpool, sometimes he was outstanding, but in the second half of last season he tailed off a bit,” Carragher said. “The same thing will happen at Man City because he’s still only young.

“Raheem Sterling — at this stage of his career and what he’s done up to now — is possibly worth around £30m (€42m).

“In the next three or four years, if Sterling can take City to a couple of Premier League titles, more success in the Champions League, they will say he’s been worth it.”

As Sterling prepares to complete his acrimonious move, his soon-to-be former manager Brendan Rodgers has insisted he has no hard feelings against the 20-year-old.

Speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Rodgers said: “I spoke to Raheem at length again before I left yesterday, so there is no issue and no problem. Two clubs have agreed a deal and subject to a medical he will move on. But at this moment in time the interest is with the players that are here.”

Liverpool rejected two initial City bids but once it became obvious they would increase their offer a third time, Sterling was dropped from the tour party to Thailand on Sunday.

And the expected confirmation of Sterling’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium later this week will bring an end to a six-month saga which has been acrimonious in spite of Rodgers’ insistence that his personal relationship with the player remains intact.

Sterling angered club officials in February by rejecting what Rodgers described as “an incredible deal” — then engaged in an unsanctioned interview with the BBC two months later in which he confirmed he had turned the offer down. The impasse deepened when Sterling’s agent, Aidy Ward, claimed the player would not sign even for “£900,000 a week”.

Sterling missed the start of pre-season training last week, citing illness as he sat out Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions before returning on Friday.

He was initially included in the club’s tour party — despite reports that he had asked Rodgers to be excused — before City’s move made his departure inevitable.

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