In news that's seemingly been coming down the pike for months, Liverpool announce that they've reached an agreement to keep Raheem Sterling at the club long-term.
Most of the gusto was taken out of the announcement a few days back when nearly every major news outlet in England revealed--all in exclusive breaking news that absolutely nobody else knows fashion--that Raheem Sterling had agreed a deal with Liverpool, but it's unquestionably good news that today the club have officially released the news that the 18 year-old has been locked in longer-term.
"It's every 18-year-old's dream. I'm just really grateful to be at such a big club like this.
"There's a lot more to be done. I haven't begun yet, as the manager has said. Hopefully I can kick on after the New Year and try to do my best for the team and the football club."
For me the only downside in all of this was the manner in which it was handled; Brendan Rodgers was always going to be asked about the youngster's contract status given the fact that there was a relatively short period of time remaining, but for a club striving to get their business done back behind closed doors, the Sterling contract deal received far too much airtime. Wanting to keep him humble and out of the spotlight is admirable, but that effort is undercut when it becomes very clear that his contract was the biggest piece of news surrounding the club. There's a fine line to walk, and as far as the publicity side of things went, I'm not sure it was handled in the best manner possible.
As for every other part of this, though, it's hard to see any negatives--Raheem Sterling is one of the brightest young talents in the country, and to have him commit himself to Liverpool at a time like this, with higher wages and more immediate success (at least for a club as a whole) possible elsewhere, he could have very deferred the club's offers until something more lucrative came in.
But he didn't, and that's a testament to the work done at nearly every level. He was brought along well in the Academy setup adapted by Rafa Benitez and overseen by Frank McParland, given a chance to shine for the reserves and in the NextGen Series by Rodolfo Borrell, introduced to the first-team by Kenny Dalglish, and now, whether or not it's due to a threadbare squad, become a regular in the senior squad eleven under Brendan Rodgers.
He needs more time and patience, and hopefully a rest is coming soon. What's nice is that the rest can be afforded with the comfort of knowing that time off won't affect his status at the club--he's a Liverpool player now and will be long-term, and that's a wonderful thing.