Ex-QPR star Raheem Sterling will be a hit at Man City, says his former coach
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EXCLUSIVE: Former QPR starlet Raheem Sterling will be no benchwarmer at Manchester City, according to his former coach Paul Lawrence.
Sterling’s decision to swap life at Anfield for the blue half of Manchester this week – for an initial £44million rising to £49m – will earn the Hoops up to almost £10million because of a 20 per cent sell-on clause built into the deal which took him to Liverpool back in 2010.
But is it such good news for the 20-year-old now carrying the burden of being the most expensive English player in history?
Lawrence, who coached Sterling both at Copland Community School – now Ark Elvin Academy – and in his early years at Rangers, has no doubts.
He rejects the theory City’s backers have bought the former Brent district forward just because they can, and the notion he could fester on the bench, having made sure City reach their quota of English talent.
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“Raheem is totally different to [Samir] Nasri, [David] Silva and [Jesus] Navas,” he said. “Is Navas’ delivery really as good? How has he been playing? Has he really got the goals and the assists?
“Raheem can play different roles within different systems. As we saw with James Milner last year, City played him in central midfield, as a lone striker, on the left or right and even as a wing-back.
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“I’m not saying they have bought Raheem for that reason, but maybe they have seen some of that flexibility in him.
“Raheem understands those roles and, compared to Milner, he brings an extra attacking threat, but with that will to get the ball back and defend as far away from his own goal as possible.”
Sterling has been heavily criticised in some quarters for the way he seems to have engineered the transfer, facing accusations he was chasing the ‘Sterling’.
But Lawrence insists Sterling simply has an insatiable appetite for winning – and therefore it was simply a matter of time before he signed for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“I’ve always believed Raheem was going to go all the way and that is no disrespect to any of the clubs he has already played for,” he said.
“Liverpool will always be seen as a big club based on their history and past successes, but the budget they have to spend on players means they are not in the same bracket as the likes of City, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Chelsea.
“So I can see Raheem’s point of view. He wants to win things and he wants to win them as quickly as possible – he’s always been like that.”