Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is still yet to sign a new contract at Anfield. Jürgen Klopp has spoken about the risks with leaving the Reds in the past.
Raheem Sterling has been the subject of transfer interest on more than one occasion since he left Liverpool for £49m in 2015, but it seems like he might actually be leaving Manchester City this summer.
This week, Sterling is reportedly set to seal a big-money move to Chelsea — returning to London after spending the majority of his career in the North West.
His legacy, though, at both clubs, is slightly contradictory. At Anfield, Sterling was the promising young talent who has unfinished business, thanks to his exit (and his agent) breaking ties in entirely the wrong manner.
Sterling has since admitted that he still likes Liverpool and there has long been a feeling that had Jürgen Klopp been appointed earlier, he might have stayed.
At the same time, while his legacy at Liverpool was tarnished and he still feels the wrath of the Reds crowd whenever he faces them, Sterling’s time at Manchester City has undoubtedly been successful.
He has not won the Champions League, but he has won the Premier League three times. His 131 goals and 95 assists are a testament to the hole in the Manchester City squad that he will leave behind.
At Liverpool, then, Sterling was successful as a player but left in a bad way. At Manchester City, he has decided to move on because he is not playing the role he wants and he is not happy.
By moving to Chelsea, he is joining another team with aspirations of winning the Premier League and the Champions League. Few players have represented all three of the top sides in the country, but Sterling appears set to do so. It is the latest move in a complex career that is complicated to unpack.
At Liverpool, Sterling could have been something more had he not jumped ship for a chance at something he viewed as being better at the time. At Manchester City, it has worked out, but not to the extent that they will miss him much despite his goal contributions. He has not won the biggest prize of all, the Champions League, either.
At neither of his former clubs will Sterling find much love for different reasons — the one thing that Mohamed Salah has consistently stated he wants to feel during his long-drawn-out contract negotiations. Manchester City will not mourn him too deeply and letting him join a possible title rival is a statement in itself of how he is seen.
Other than the financial aspect, Salah has always maintained that he wants to play for a side where he is respected to the maximum and where he plays a vital role in the team.
Sterling is proof that at Manchester City — a team Salah could join, with his camp having moved to pressure Liverpool in negotiations thanks to their declaration he would like to remain in England beyond 2023 — even when you post excellent numbers and play a vital part in the team’s success, that love is not necessarily there.
Having been at Liverpool at a time when Manchester City have been their leading — and often only — competitors at the top of the table, Salah will know that better than most. The feeling and the love at Liverpool is more intense than elsewhere, with Manchester City lacking the kind of atmosphere and global allure that Anfield and the Reds possess.
As Sterling prepares to move on again in search of the perfect fit for him on and off the pitch, that should be a warning to Salah that things are not necessarily better away from Liverpool — even if the pay packet is.
Once again, Klopp’s words ring true. To paraphrase the Reds boss: at Liverpool, you can be loved. Elsewhere, you are just another player among many.