Liverpool's move for Basel winger Mohamed Salah is edging closer to completion according to multiple reports including this from the Mirror's Jonathan Symcox, but Brendan Rodgers must not allow Raheem Sterling to leave as a result of the new arrival.
Sterling, 19, has been linked with a move to fellow Premier League side Swansea—Rodgers' former club—by Darren Lewis in the Mirror, who claims the Welsh side would continue the winger's development in the Liverpool style:
The speedster could now go to Rodgers’ previous club, where a similar emphasis is placed on the style of football which the Northern Irishman did so well with at the Liberty.
Rodgers also wants Sterling to continue the rapid rate of progress he has enjoyed since being integrated fully into the first-team last season.
Raheem Sterling Premier League stats: This Season: 13 games, 3 goals and 2 assists. Last Season: 24 games, 2 goals and 2 games.— Raheem Sterling (@RSterlingStats) December 29, 2013
However, with Liverpool chasing Champions League qualification in one of the most competitive Premier League campaigns for years, they would be foolish to loan Sterling to another side and reduce their own options further when injuries have already hindered them.
After earning an England debut in the 4-2 defeat against Sweden in 2012, Sterling has pushed on in his career and three goals in his last seven appearances show he is thriving on the competition for places at Anfield.
In particular his understanding and link-up with Luis Suarez has been a highlight of some of Liverpool's recent victories, specifically in the wins against Norwich, Cardiff and Tottenham where the Reds scored 13 goals in three games.
The arrival of Salah could admittedly signal the exit of a lesser light, such as Iago Aspas, who has struggled to make an impact on the team, as reported by Liam Prenderville in the Mirror.
But Sterling has illustrated his ability to mix it with Liverpool's senior stars and deserves the chance to stay. Indeed, in the recent loss at Manchester City, he was arguably Liverpool's most effective attacker.
The competition for places in Rodgers' squad, and the prospect of helping the Reds to qualify for the Champions League, are a greater learning curve for a young talent than regular football at a mid-table side.
Would loaning Raheem Sterling out benefit Liverpool?
The need for strength in-depth at Anfield as they approach the business end of the season demands that Rodgers holds on to a player of Sterling's quality in order to have the ability to change games with players he can trust. Such competition also keeps other first-choice stars on their toes.
Rodgers has loaned individuals out with excellent results; Andre Wisdom has helped Derby County climb the Championship table, while Oussama Assaidi has become a central figure for Stoke in recent weeks.
But neither of them were in the first-team picture like Sterling and it would prove an error for both player and club if Rodgers is happy to let Sterling leave on loan to Swansea in January.