Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger thanks Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after getting his record-breaking switch

The 20-year-old has become the most expensive English footballer of all time after his £49m to the Etihad Stadium

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The Independent Online

Raheem Sterling has left Liverpool at the end of one of the most poisonous transfer sagas in history with a final conciliatory gesture - thanking Brendan Rodgers for helping to develop his career.

It was irreconcilable difference with the Liverpool manager that were cited as one of the key reasons why Sterling wished to leave the club this summer, which he finally did in a £49m deal to Manchester City that makes him the most expensive English footballer of all time. In his first interview since the transfer, with the City website, Sterling also thanked his agent Aidy Ward, underlining his close relationship with the man who has at times found himself at the centre of the story over the last few months.


The 20-year-old will fly to Australia on Wednesday to join up with his new team-mates. Negotiations were concluded amicably between City and Liverpool, who have maintained a working relationship despite the friction between Sterling and Ward on one side and Liverpool on the other. City have always been the favourites to sign the player once it became clear that he would not agree another deal at Anfield, and their willingness to get to the asking price relatively swiftly meant that Liverpool felt they could justify the transfer.

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Raheem Sterling has his picture taken with a fan as he arrives at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday (Reuters)

Sterling’s move will earn his former club Queen’s Park Rangers around £9m, although he never made a senior appearance for them. He said: “It has been a long journey from QPR and I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way. I’d like to thank Rafa Benitez for taking me to Liverpool as a 15-year-old. That was a massive step for me and a new challenge. Also to Kenny Dalglish for showing such faith in me and putting me in at such a young age.

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Sterling payed tribute to Rodgers despite their relationship souring as the player pushed for a move away from Anfield (Getty)

“Finally I’d like to thank Brendan Rodgers for giving me a chance and an opportunity in the first team, giving me my full debut – against City, funnily enough – and giving me a real chance to cement a place in the first team and show the world my talents. I’d also like to thank all the people around me – my mum and sisters, my management team, and Aidy Ward - for helping me focus and get where I am today. I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone.”

With Manuel Pellegrini into the last year of his contract at City, the likelihood is that Sterling will be playing under Pep Guardiola next season who is the leading candidate - arguably the only candidate - in the mind of director of football Txiki Begiristain to take over. While City intend to be contenders for all major honours next season, all signings are being made with Guardiola’s arrival in mind.

 

Sterling has signed a five-year contract on a salary of around £200,000 a week. Described in April 2014 by Rodgers as the “best young player in European football”, Sterling has been unequivocal over the last six months about his desire to play for a club that he believes is challenging for the biggest honours as well as being in the Champions League. 

Sterling said that the record fee would not affect him. “You don’t think about things like that when you’re that age but things have come really fast in the last couple of years. I’ve just had to learn to take it all in my stride but I never imagined I’d be at this point at the age I am now and breaking a British transfer record fee.

“It’s a good feeling and a really happy time for me and my family. I’m just glad it’s all over and done with and I can’t wait to get on the training field.”

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Sterling will wear the No 7 shirt for Manchester City

The player appeared outside the club’s Etihad Stadium after having his medical, and takes the No 7 shirt following the departure of James Milner. He was described by Pellegrini as “one of the best attacking players in world football”. “He is a young player with outstanding ability,” the City manager said, “and I am sure the Manchester City fans will be very excited about seeing him in action for the team.”

Sterling said that it was the “world class players” who convinced him to sign for the club. He said that City have “a squad that are capable of winning things year in, year out. The more quality players that are around you, the more quality it brings out in you so I can’t wait to get started and play alongside them.

“I spoke to [Joe Hart] briefly on the last England trip. He just told me what a really good football club this was and how nice the fans are – nothing too serious but a bit of a heads up.”

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