The transfer story of the summer was of course Raheem Sterling’s departure for Manchester City, but another transfer talked up for very different reasons was the out-of-contract James Milner moving in the opposite direction.
Whilst Sterling’s July departure divided opinion amongst Liverpool fans – with some wanting one of the club’s best talents to stay whilst others saw a money grabber who needed to be cut loose – the majority were in agreement that the signing of Milner without spending a penny was a very shrewd piece of business. But who has proved to be the better piece of business?
Much as it pains me to say, Sterling’s performances for City of late have been akin to those he produced in his exciting first few years at Liverpool, scoring goals galore, creating chances for his team-mates and enjoying his football once again.
Sterling scored three minutes into his debut for Manchester City against Roma in pre-season, and since the start of the season proper has amassed six goals from 15 games in all competitions. The Sky Blues are a favourite with punters – Manchester City are 11/1 to do a Premier League-FA Cup double at Betway – and no doubt Sterling’s input has been a contributing factor.
The big question of course is whether the 20-year-old be able to hold his form as the season progresses. Sterling of course produced many moments of excellence in his time at Liverpool, but towards the end of his Anfield career fans became disappointed at some abject performances. It could happen again.
Most commentators will agree with the assessment of Sterling as having added something to Manchester City’s attack, but let’s take a look at the impact Milner is having at Anfield.
The experienced midfielder had a very impressive pre-season under Brendan Rodgers, and scored his first competitive goal for the club back in September. Like many other players though his performances started to tail off, as the Reds became the draw-masters of the league.
Recent weeks though have seen some improved performances from the vice-captain – the weekend’s clash with Newcastle excepted – and some of that may have to do with the recent appointment of Jurgen Klopp as manager – the German seeming to get more out of the player than his predecessor had been able to.
Looking purely at performances there can be no denying that Sterling has been the more impressive since the two players switched clubs. However one cost £44m and the other cost nothing, this is something that has to be taken into account.
In Milner Liverpool have found themselves a consistent and hardworking footballer and with the Merseyside club getting the player without paying a penny. In Sterling City have picked themselves up a good player no doubt, but the type of superstar you expect to get for the money they paid? Personally I don’t think so.
When it comes to the flair lost with the departure of Sterling we still have Coutinho, and little by little Roberto Firmino is starting to show what he can provide as well. One thing the club were desperately missing though was experience following the departure of Steven Gerrard, and what Milner provides in this aspect could prove invaluable.
Milner’s work ethic and end product could turn out to be worth much more than Sterling’s odd flashes of brilliance, and whilst the younger player has certainly been the better of the two so far I wouldn’t bank on saying the same come the end of the season.
It is of course very difficult to directly compare two players that are totally different in how they play the game, but I still maintain as I did at the start of the season that replacing Sterling in the squad with Milner – plus an extra £44m in the bank – was a great bit of business.
Which player do you think turned out to be the better signing? Have your say in the comments section below!