Raheem Sterling tried to make his peace with Liverpool following his record-breaking move to Premier League rivals Manchester City on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old forward became English football‘s most expensive player after passing a medical in a five-year deal worth an initial £44 million that could rise to £49 million ($76 million, 68 million euro).
City, the 2014 Premier League champions, finished runners-up to champions Chelsea last season as Liverpool came sixth and failed to qualify for Europe’s elite Champions League competition.
“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,” Sterling told City’s official website late Tuesday.
His move across the northwest of England set the seal on a long-running transfer saga involving the England international who was under contract at Liverpool until 2017.
But he had rejected a £100,000-a-week deal to extend his stay at Liverpool, with the Reds finally accepting City’s third bid of the close season.
Sterling’s behaviour, and that of his outspoken agent Aidy Ward, infuriated many Liverpool fans as well as drawing criticism from Anfield great Steven Gerrard.
Sterling, however, was keen on Tuesday to acknowledge the part various Liverpool figures, including current manager Brendan Rodgers, had played in his development since he was a teenager.
“It has been a long journey from QPR and I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way,” he said.
“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.
“I want 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.
“Finally, 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.”
The Jamaican-born Londoner took over the most expensive English footballer mantle from Andy Carroll, who moved from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35 million but never lived up to the tag.
Sterling, who will wear the number seven shirt, is now second only to Welshman Gareth Bale, who joined Real Madrid for some £85 million from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, on the all-time most expensive British player chart.
Front-man Sterling will now competing with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Wilfried Bony, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and David Silva for a place in City’s starting side.
Sterling will now fly out to meet up with his new team-mates on tour in Australia within the next 24 hours. – Agence France-Presse