Raheem Sterling is fully entitled to demand a move away from Liverpool

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Following the news on Monday evening that Raheem Sterling is set to snub a $150,000 a week contract offer from Liverpool this week and ask for a transfer, the 20-year-old winger was lambasted and vilified across the globe.

[ RELATED: Sterling’s agents questioned ]

Sterling’s loyalty towards the team who gave him a chance to breakthrough into the PL is being questioned, and last month he gave an ill-advised interview with the BBC claiming he is “not a money-grabbing 20-year-old” and wants to win trophies, before then turning down a new deal Liverpool had offered him.

Is it about money and the youngster being greedy, or is this about Sterling wanting to win trophies and seeing that he has a better chance of doing that elsewhere?

True, the way his agents have handled these lengthy contract negotiations with Liverpool have at times been shambolic but should Sterling be vilified for wanting to move elsewhere in order to win trophies and play in the UEFA Champions League?

Liverpool is, and still are, a great club to play for. But the fact of the matter is, Brendan Rodgers’ side cannot offer UCL soccer next season and he is yet to win a single piece of silverware in his three seasons as manager at Anfield.

Sterling is only 20 years old and has plenty of room for improvement but he has now had two full seasons in the PL and is a regular for the English national team. He has scored seven goals and added seven assists in the PL for Liverpool this campaign and despite some bizarre off the field antics which landed him a slap on the wrist from Rodgers, he has had another good season in England’s top-flight.

The Jamaican-born winger has two years left on his current deal but the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are rumored to be eyeing up a bid for him this summer. All of those clubs have real chances of winning silverware and no disrespect to Liverpool, but the teams interested in Sterling would be a step up for him. At times this year his finishing has let him down and Sterling has failed to impact games the way he did last season when Liverpool came oh so close to winning the PL.

[ RELATED: Wenger talks Zelalem’s USMNT switch, future plans ]

His pace is absolutely electric and frightens the heck out of opposition defenders. Rodgers has played Sterling up top on his own many times this season due to Liverpool’s struggles with strikers being out injured or out of form, and that hasn’t suited Sterling who is an out-and-out winger. Any Liverpool fan who has hit out at Sterling’s performances this year must also acknowledge that in many games he has been their biggest attacking threat. There’s no denying that.

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Raheem Sterling, England

One of the biggest issues here are those claiming that Sterling “has done nothing in the game” yet and is still developing. He is still developing, that’s right. But he seems to have outgrown Liverpool and has gone as far as he can under the tutelage of Rodgers. Sterling’s talent and raw athleticism mean he has the potential to be one of the greatest wingers England has ever produced but when you look at similar players over the years, the likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have yet to fulfill the potential they showed as teenagers. Sterling may feel he needs to move onto the next level now to avoid his development being impacted.

Sterling is wanted by many of Liverpool’s PL rivals and therein lies another issue. With Steven Gerrard moving on, Luis Suarez going to Barcelona last summer and the likes of Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres leaving in the past, it seems as though every time Liverpool gets a world-class talent, they fail to hold on to them. Expect for Gerrard, of course. But what Liverpool won’t want to do is strengthen their direct rivals for a top four place by letting Sterling leave. They also won’t want to be seen as a stepping stone for players to make their name in the PL and then move on to a bigger team who can pay higher wages, offer UCL action and more chances of winning trophies.

That’s the situation Liverpool is in. Do they keep hold of a player who no longer wants to be around or do they sell him to the highest bidder, even if that is a direct rival?

Sterling is contracted to Liverpool for another two years but if he wants to leave and bigger clubs come calling, he is entitled to express his opinion. The ball is now in Liverpool’s court, as they must decide how to handle this situation which has become a saga over the past six months.

Simply put: Liverpool looks close to losing yet another world class talent this summer as the pressure begins to build on Rodgers. Whether Sterling stays or goes, he is entitled to express his opinion and if he wants to win trophies and this isn’t all about money, then what is the issue here? He has every right to tell the club and the outside world how he feels and then its up to Rodgers to make a decision on what to do next.

Everton’s Silva: ‘It is concerning about the goals we didn’t score’

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Like in the two games leading into Friday night, Everton have done their part in creating clear-cut chances.

They haven’t done their part in finishing, however. A major point of concern for manager Marco Silva following his side’s 2-0 loss against Aston Villa. From the BBC:

“It is really difficult to see how we can lose this game when we create so many chances to score. It is a tough place to play football.”

The Toffees have now outshot all three opponents they’ve faced this season (34-21), but have only a goal to speak for their attacking dominance. Against Villa, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Theo Walcott squandered ideal chances in the first and second halves, respectively. In the minutes following his Everton debut, Alex Iwobi was the closest to converting for the visitors, hitting the post in the closing minutes of the match.

Silva, as critical as ever before, acknowledges that despite his team succeeding when it comes to creating chances, they desperately need to move the ball past the white line.

“The most difficult thing is to create and when you do you have to put the ball in the net,” the 42-year-old added. “It is concerning about the goals we didn’t score and of course we should score more. Against Palace we created lots of chances to score and didn’t and again today.”

With a challenging bout against Wolves at Goodison Park next on the schedule, the Portuguese will certainly look to tinker his attack to improve the team’s poor conversion rate. Despite falling to score 10 yards in, Iwobi contributed positively for Everton at Villa Park. Moise Kean, still adjusting to the rigors of the league, can be another prudent option to consider.

Luckily, Everton have time – and a match against Lincoln City midweek – to weigh their options. Silva, as he clearly explained at Villa Park, would want the goals to come in sooner rather than later.

Villa’s Wesley hopes to ‘continue like this’ after scoring first goal

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Anwar El Ghazi was the x-factor Friday night, giving every Aston Villa supporter in attendance at Villa Park the excuse to roar at the top of their lungs following his composed finish in the dying seconds of stoppage time.

But about an hour earlier, Villa’s $28-million striker, Wesley, gave the same supporters a reason to believe that they had a chance against Everton, and, most importantly, that Villa made the right decision in securing his signature just months ago.

[ MORE: Recap | Highlights ]

With a timely run and a well-paced strike, the Brazilian opened his Premier League and Aston Villa account. Something manager Dean Smith knew was bound to happen. From the BBC:

“Wesley is not rewarding me but this performance was very good tonight. I believe in him, I have watched him for a while at Club Bruges, playing in the Champions League so I know the calibre of player we were bringing in. You can’t judge someone after two games.”

Prior to Friday, Wesley was less effective than expected in the claret and blue, recording only two shots on target in his first 164 minutes in the league. Smith was swarmed with questions about the striker’s ineffectiveness as the pressure continued to pile on.

Against Everton, however, with the Villa struggling to keep possession and most playing through frenetic counter attacks, the 22-year-old made the most out of the small number of chances he saw. 21 minutes in, he scored. A couple of minutes later – if it wasn’t for a superb last-second tackle from Everton’s Yerry Mina – the Brazilian would have had a brace.

When he wasn’t aiming for goal, the striker was effectively displacing Everton’s back four with his clever runs and brawny hold-up play. One could tell that the Brazilian was playing the game to his strengths, in peace.

“I am very happy tonight, what a performance from the team,” Wesley said after the match. “We worked hard, played very well and we hope to continue like this week by week then we will see what happens.

“The manager knows me, he sees me everyday working hard and the supporters know me too. I keep calm, I know my qualities and today you saw that I can do.

“I hope to continue like this, the last two games were very difficult but now I have to help my team with goals.”

Time will tell if Wesley will continue on the same path, but after a slow start, its quite crystal clear that everyone at Aston Villa is behind the Brazilian striker.

Late El Ghazi goal seals Aston Villa victory over Everton

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With three points under their belt and Villa Park rocking like never before, it now feels like Aston Villa are finally back in the Premier League.

Pinned back the majority of the second half, trying to conserve a 1-0 lead, Anwar El Ghazi‘s last-gasp goal sealed the deal for Villa, edging Everton 2-0 on Friday.

Wesley‘s cathartic welcome to the Premier League 21 minutes in gave Dean Smith‘s side the room to breathe, despite being behind the ball the majority of the match.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Four things we learned

1. Certainly not the case last time they featured in the Premier League, Villa now have the luxury of boasting game-changing choices off the bench like El Ghazi, who can come in and finish things off.

2. Three matches in, and the Toffees’ glaring void is a clinical finisher up top. They’ll need to find a solution, sooner rather than later.

3.  In the 30-minute cameo, Alex Iwobi displayed that he can turn out to be a difference-maker for Everton this season, if utilized properly.

4. On a good night, there aren’t many stadiums that roar louder than Villa Park.

Man of the Match


Jota, positive for 77 minutes on the right side of the midfield, combined time and time again with Villa right back Frederic Guilbert for the greater good of creating energetic counters. The Spaniard’s first assist of the season came in similar fashion, when Wesley finished off his precise through ball.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Everton, like in the first half, imposed themselves on the home side, dominating control of the ball. A lack of fishing and creativity in the final third, however, complicated things for Marco Silva‘s side. As the clocked ticked, the ingenuity was nowhere to be found.

Shortly after coming on, Iwobi put forward the clearest chance Everton had experienced all night. The substitute’s shot, though, struck post, denying any chances of a brilliant debut by the former Arsenal man.

Villa continued to sit back with its four-man backline and Douglas Luiz right above as the No. 6, while remaining attentive on when to spring forward and take advantage of an unbalanced Everton.

El Ghazi surprised many, riffling a shot from 25 yards out. Pickford, vigilant as ever before, calmly blocked it out of danger.

Right before stoppage time, the Toffees were a couple of feet from walking away from Villa Park with a vital point. Theo Wolcott, however, failed to keep his strike leveled, skying the ball well over the bar.

Just minutes later, substitute El-Ghazi showed those watching how to finish, leading Villa to their first Premier League win since 2016.

AT HALF: Wesley scores first goal for Aston Villa

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With pressure certainly on, Wesley scored his first Premier League goal, which has Aston Villa 45 minutes out of their first points since their return to the big stage.

Following a sublime through ball from Jota, the Brazilian didn’t shy away from slotting the ball past Jordan Pickford and into the back of the net.

[ STREAM: Aston Villa – Everton ]

Such timely run and clinical finish showcased by the 22-year-old put into perspective why Villa were willing to shell out $28 million for the striker this summer.

Welcome to the Premier League, Wesley.