What’s £10million between friends, when we’re discussing the value of Sterling?

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Raheem Sterling, soon to be of Chelsea Credit: PA Images
Raheem Sterling, soon to be of Chelsea Credit: PA Images

Raheem Sterling leads this morning’s back pages, but there’s also a weird jab at Spurs and an open goal of a pun being missed.

 

What’s £10m between friends?
All the back pages this morning lead with the transfer of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City to Chelsea, but there is one glaring figure that stands out from looking at the headlines. ‘£45m’, shrieks the Daily Star (in a golden typeface, in case you hadn’t noticed that this is a very large amount of money indeed), and the Mirror, Sun and Express all agree with this valuation.

But the Daily Mail disagrees on this transfer valuation. ‘Chelsea to land £55m star from rivals City’ is their lead, and they go on to add that, ‘The clubs are still negotiating a fee – expected to be around £55million – but Chelsea go to the USA on Saturday for a pre-season tour and want the deal done by then so Sterling can fly out with them.’

The £55m figure seems to come from a number of news stories from a couple of weeks ago, when the Daily Mail reported that City were ‘seeking around £55m for Raheem Sterling’. Eventually, it becomes clear that this £55m figure may include ‘an additional £10m in add-ons’. But the Mail doesn’t specify this, and the result is that it looks as though they believe that the transfer fee for Sterling to be £10m higher than practically anyone else in the media. That Raheem Sterling could be worth either amount of money is only further proof of how little it’s worth paying attention to them in the first place.

 

No pressure, then, Raheem
Still on the Sterling transfer, most of the newspapers seem to be happy just to report on the progress of his move to London, but The Sun can’t resist upping the ante with its headline, ‘Raheem joins Chelsea to win the… Ballon d’Or’.

The Sun claim that ‘The ambitious star hopes a fresh start can help him become the best player in the world and win the prestigious Ballon d’Or’. Of course, there’s no direct quote in which he says this. The entire piece is a list of his apparent expectations without any direct quotes.

But we should dwell on the expectation levels being placed upon his shoulders for a second, here. Only three players – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luka Modric – have won the Ballon d’Or in the last fifteen years and it’s been 17 years since any English players made the top three. Mediawatch is all in favour of ambition, but it does feel a little as though basing a back page main headline on this is a little much. Mediawatch doesn’t doubt that Raheem Sterling would like to win the Ballon D’Or, but it seems unlikely that this will be at the top of his list of priorities, come the start of the new season.

 

When the headline is the story
Actually, the reason for The Sun focusing on this relatively trifling matter – is anyone ever invested in who wins the Ballon d’Or other than the players themselves and their weirdo social media fanboys? – is more to do with creating a rhyme than winning this trophy being more important than, say, winning the Champions League or the Premier League. Because ‘Ballon D’Or’ rhymes with ‘Exit Door’, and this allows them to segue their Sterling story seamlessly with a story about Manchester United ‘accepting’ that Cristiano Ronaldo will be leaving the club this summer.

There is a lot of substance that could be added to this story. Which Champions League clubs may be interested in taking a (likely extremely expensive) punt on this player? If he’s prepared to take a substantial pay cut, how much would be prepared to accept and how might this influence who might be interested in him? What happens if no sale is agreed by the 1st September?

But unfortunately none of that detail is present, only a handful of old quotes about how people expected and wanted him to stay at the club which meanders off into a round-up of Manchester United’s recent activity in the transfer market. Still, the headlines are eye-catching, and that, it often feels, is all that matters, isn’t it?

 

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

 

Anti-Social Media
As some of you may already have gathered, the wilder extremes of the sports pages are somewhat constrained at present by Wimbledon, there being a half-decent England cricket team for once and Euro 2022 (and it would be remiss not to mention that the coverage of England’s win over Austria at Old Trafford is pretty decent, with big reports on the match in all the newspapers and no outbursts of contrarian misogyny on display. Baby steps, baby steps).

But turn inside the Mirror and there’s a fine example of the old tabloid tradition of creating a big story over something so trifling that it barely even exists. In this case, it’s a ‘Wage Rage At United’, a story which consists of… Harry Maguire ‘liking’ a post on Instagram about Ronaldo’s 25% pay cut, which has come about for all United players after they failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

In short, what actually happened was: Maguire ‘liked’ a post. Some supporters – who are definitely not influenced by the identity of the player doing the ‘liking’ – were critical of him having done so. He came out and said that he’d done it by accident. That’s it. That’s the story.

But papers have space to fill, so David McDonnell was charged with the job of stretching that to 800 words, which he attempted admirably, taking in Erik Ten Hag’s reaction (‘a headache new United boss Erik ten Hag could do without’, apparently – what? More of a headache than being told five weeks before the start of the new season that the guy who scored almost a third of your league goals last season wants to leave? Mediawatch doubts this, somehow), fan reactions, including some saying that Maguire ‘should never play for United again after needlessly stoking up controversy’ (yeah, ‘needlessly stoking up controversy’, that’s what get a player kicked out of Old Trafford), and a brief history of what they perceive as the spat between these two players.

Never mind that Maguire will have received exactly the same pay cut, or that they describe this as a ‘fresh rift’ even though the tensions between these two players have been sporadically appearing in their pages for months. And never mind that even if he did ‘like’ this post deliberately, he might even have been indulging in a little gallows humour just as much at his own expense as anybody else’s. The papers love conflating this sort of thing into a fight, even if it means nothing at all. And really, really really really, this doesn’t.

 

Show Levy The Money
As it’s Thursday it’s time for another round of Martin Lipton’s Iced Takes, and there’s a curious aside from him about events planned for later this year at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in his column this morning:

Daniel Levy’s money-making schemes continue – even when there is no football. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium played host to Guns & Roses last weekend with Lady Gaga still to come later this month.

And, while Spurs will not be in action for six weeks because of Qatar 2022, the November void will be filled by International rugby union with New Zealand playing the Barbarians.

Well, when you have boss Antonio Conte’s demands to meet, you need to get the cash in.

Not quite, Martin. The new Spurs stadium cost £1bn to build, and according to the last accounts Spurs remain £706m in debt as a result. It’s the second highest debt in the Premier League, after Chelsea. And Covid has affected Spurs, just as it has everybody else. They reported an £80.2m pre-tax loss for the 2020/21 season, and have lost £150m over the last two.

It is, therefore, critical that Spurs utilise the new stadium. And it’s hardly as though the 2022 World Cup dates were a secret. FIFA announced them on February 24 2015, more than seven years ago. It’s not even the first time that events have been held there. It has, for example, already hosted four NFL matches over the previous two years of American football’s ‘International Series’ and will host two more this year, at the start of October. This is what the stadium was designed to do.

Obviously, this is is just a weird, cheap joke because Conte always expects high spending and Daniel Levy has a reputation for being tight with the purse-strings. But the maths over this are pretty straightforward. Conte improved Spurs last season to an exceptional level, but the teams around them all have vastly bigger commercial bases or financial backing.

Conte has made Spurs a bigger draw, whether just by being there or by getting them into the Champions League, and it is clear that, while things could yet go wrong (this is Spurs, after all), with financial backing he is capable of taking them further. And furthermore, they’ve spent the same amount of money so far this summer as Arsenal, and less than Liverpool and Manchester City, while Chelsea and Manchester United’s relative inertia in the transfer market will not last.

The most unusual aspect of Spurs’ summer so far has been how sensible-looking and businesslike their dealings have been, and that’s a joke that would required much less of a stretch than Lipton’s Conte reach. Would it be preferable if the club was funded by, say, a nation-state, or by fossil-fuel money? Or both?

 

Aribo-ing a laugh
As Mediawatch points out on a daily basis, there is much to question about some newspapers’ coverage of football in this country, but we can all join together is in the appreciation of a good pun. ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic are Atrocious’, perhaps the finest and best-known example of the pun-ridden tabloid headline, has entered the lexicon of this country.

But this only makes it all the more disappointing, when they seem to miss one. The Sun, Mail and Express didn’t reference the transfer of Joe Aribo from Rangers to Southampton. ‘£10m Aribo all go with Saints’ is the Mirror’s half-hearted effort, but it’s the Daily Star who come closest this morning, with ‘Aribo is bagged’. Mediawatch feels as though it should be gesturing towards an open goal by mentioning that Aribo might turn out to be a ‘Tangfastic’ signing for Southampton. You’re welcome.

The article What’s £10million between friends, when we’re discussing the value of Sterling? appeared first on Football365.com.

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