Is Talented Footballer Raheem Sterling’s current predicament down to poor advice or simply young ambition?



Is the Ball Firmly now in the Millennials Court?

20 year-old Liverpool FC and England forward Raheem Sterling’s current situation took a new twist recently when he reportedly decided to reject a £100,000 per week contract offer from his current organisation1. His rise in the last few years has been well documented. Having broking into the Liverpool first team in August 2012, his form earned him 15 England appearances including an impressive World Cup tournament in Brazil 2014. So having established himself as a key figure for both his club and country, and with a large contract offer on the table, why is Sterling seemingly looking to change his career path and move away from Liverpool? 

Mismanagement of a talent with high potential?

In March 2015, Sterling conducted a controversial interview with the BBC, organised by his agent and without Liverpool’s authorisation. In the interview he didn’t commit his long-term future to Liverpool and went on to express his desire to compete at the top level. The interview ostracised himself from the Liverpool supporters, with the fans interpreting Sterling wanting more money, and put him in a difficult position with his manager and fellow colleagues. As well as his agent organising this massive PR stunt2, he has also made controversial comments to the press, including saying that no amount of money could keep Sterling at Liverpool3.

Is Sterling being advised that finance is more important than his career development? Is his agent attempting to force Liverpool’s hand and engineer an even bigger contract? Has this saga been completely mismanaged by Sterling on the advice of his agent?4

Many organisations employ young, ambitious talent that want to develop their skills and knowledge to progress in their career. When considering whether to change roles or stay with their current organisation, most young talent lean on family, friends and peers for advice. In these situations they need to make sure the people they are asking have their best interests at heart and are a source of information that they can trust. The danger is that the advice given could lead to them potentially leaving a role that would be good for their development in order to receive a pay increase elsewhere. While this could be a favourable short-term solution, this may not work out in the long-term.

Organisations need to ensure that line managers are having conversations with their employees so that they understand what motivates them, what they want to achieve, and how they would like to get there. In doing so they will be in a stronger position to give their talent various options, helping the organisation to retain its best people. 

Ambitious talent with power?

Is Sterling just an ambitious young man that wants to achieve his full potential? He has every right to be playing at the highest possible level if he feels can compete with the best of the best. Top European clubs such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are all rumoured to be ready to offer Sterling a better contract and the potential to play in the Champions League, the highest level of competition in club football.5

Maybe Sterling feels his progress is being stifled at Liverpool? Perhaps playing with and against better players will enable him to improve and become a truly world class talent – who is to argue with him?


With Premier League clubs having more money than ever before due to lucrative TV deals, players now have far more power to demand more money and push for a move away if they’re not happy.6 In this case, Sterling knows that he will be able to get more money away from Liverpool, he also knows that clubs will have the money available to buy him out of his current contract. This places the power firmly in the hands of player, taking it away from the clubs.

Similarly, with organisations having come through the recession and beginning to thrive again, there are now more jobs available for young talent to pick and choose from. According to Forbes Future Workplace, job hopping is normal with 91% of talent expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years, meaning they would have 15-20 jobs across their professional career.7 Employees now have a lot of power – if they aren’t happy with their current situation, they know there are opportunities at other organisations available to them. This allows talented, high potential employees to be much more specific about what they want, and often more demanding, when negotiating with their organisation. It also places much more pressure on organisations to create an environment that can attract and keep talent. 

Raheem Sterling’s particular case highlights how young talent could be poorly advised to make decisions that can affect their current and future positions. It also illustrates how they have more power and options available to them than ever before.


Are you currently considering these factors in your organisation and what strategies are you putting in place to ensure you can retain your top talent in the future?






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