Manchester City paid Liverpool an eye-popping transfer fee to sign Raheem Sterling.

Sterling bears the burden of expectation at the outset of his Manchester City carrer following his £49 million ($76 million) transfer. His Manchester City transfer makes him the most expensive English player and most expensive player under the age of 21 in history.

Manchester City hopes Sterling will justify his price tag by living up to his potential and sparking its trophy pursuits now and in the coming years.

Liverpool has sold one of its leading players for the second consecutive season. Fans want the Reds to reinvest the Sterling proceeds into strengthening its squad and emerging from the transfer saga a stronger force, as manager Brendan Rodgers said is possible Monday.

Let’s take a closer look at Sterling’s transfer fee, which is, and might remain, the biggest of the summer 2015 transfer window.

Why the hefty price tag?
Sterling, 20, already is a good player. He has the potential to develop into a superstar. Sterling was a key part of a Liverpool team that finished second in the 2013-14 Premier League and sixth in 2014-15. He also has cemented himself as a starter on England’s national team despite his age and relative inexperience. Sterling also won the 2014 European Golden Boy Award, which recognized him as Europe’s best U-21 player last year.

Sterling has demonstrated immense mental strength in the nascent years of his promising career by starring in heated Premier League title race and following it with a fine 2014-15 season in which he won Liverpool’s Young Player of the Year Award.

Sterling’s form dipped toward the end of 2014-15 as his contract negotiations with Liverpool broke down and a transfer saga, which just concluded this week, began. But the fact Sterling practiced well enough to maintain Rodgers’ trust and warrant a place in the starting lineup in the last three months of 2014-15 shows he has great powers of focus.

Sterling is capable enough technically, tactically and physically to handle the rigors of Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup soccer. Sterling likely will improve these qualities over the course of time and marry those to his impressive mental attributes.

Manchester City reportedly will pay Sterling a base salary of £180,000-a-week ($9.6 million per year) plus bonuses. Sterling’s transfer fee and wages put him into a bracket of players only England’s top four teams can afford, and it’s a stretch to include Arsenal in that group.

What Liverpool receives
Liverpool first rids itself of a distraction. Sterling’s public transfer saga undoubtedly destabilized Liverpool, and his exit could help restore or improve harmony in the Reds’ camp.

Liverpool also receives funds to make an impact signing who can push it toward the promised land of the top four places in the league standings. However, Liverpool can’t afford to sign the wrong player as Sterling’s replacement.

Liverpool also must pay Queens Park Rangers a sell-on fee of £9.8 million ($15.3 million) under terms of Sterling’s £500,000 transfer to Anfield in 2010. Liverpool will pocket £39.2 million ($61 million) of the fee Manchester City paid for Sterling, having increased his transfer value times 100 in five years.

Liverpool now has sold Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Sterling (among other stars) in the last four-and-a-half years, garnering round £175 million ($274 million) in transfer fees and an unwanted reputation as a “selling club.”

What Manchester City buys

Manchester City pays for a quality player in Sterling’s current guise. Sterling could develop supreme quality in two to four years. Manchester City also buys an England player who will garner headlines and represent the club internationally, as national-teamers often do.

Manchester City must do what it takes for Sterling to flourish at the Etihad Stadium. Sterling will bolster Manchester City’s reputation as a place where young English players’ careers go to stall if he fails to meet expectations.


Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@FIFAcom