Raheem Sterling is a fascinating character.
Objectively, he is an elite-level footballer with a tremendously impressive personal record and a cluttered trophy cabinet.
And yet he is often the focus of criticism, particularly in the realm of international football.
This is perhaps because there any elements of his game that are frustrating. He has a curious habit of missing chances that seem easier to score semi-regularly and he has a habit of holding onto the ball a second too long.
However, many England fans are guilty of over emphasising the areas of his game he could improve while not giving enough attention to his positive attributes.
The 26-year-old is quick and capable of dribbling at a speed that worries defenders. And under Pep Guardiola he has developed world-class instincts in the final third.
It is not a coincidence that the ball so often falls to Sterling in the box, he persistently positions himself in threatening areas.
His goals at Euro 2020 are great examples of predatory instincts.
Against Croatia, it was his penetrating run that encouraged Kalvin Phillips to play the throughball that became an assist.
Against Czech Republic, he judged the trajectory of Jack Grealish’s dinked cross quicker than anyone else on the pitch, adjusting his run to give himself a simple header at the back post from an unmissable distance.
And most recently, Sterling darted into a gap to set alarm bells ringing in Germany’s defence before laying it off to Harry Kane. Three seconds later, after good work from Grealish and Luke Shaw, Sterling was on hand to finish the move he started having taken up the perfect position at the near post – check the highlights and look how he peels off Matthias Ginter’s shoulder.
The ability to consistently be in the right place at the right time should not be underestimated – just ask Ruud van Nistelrooy or any other legendary poacher.
What many fans fail to realise is that Sterling has been one of the Three Lions most consistently good players since the World Cup – he’s scored 13 goals in 18 international games since the start of 2019.
The undeserved lack of belief in Sterling translated to Dream Team Euros.
When the tournament got underway, he was England’s fourth-most popular midfielder behind Mason Mount, Grealish and Phil Foden.
His goalscoring exploits have increased his ownership to 18.3%, putting him above Mount, but he still features in fewer teams than Grealish and Foden despite racking up more points than his three team-mates combined!
Granted, his price of £5.5m may have been a factor but that shouldn’t be an issue now the likes Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema have been eliminated, freeing up plenty of budget for the majority of gaffers.
Sterling’s tally of 21 points makes him the sixth-best midfielder still active at Euro 2020.
Surely now he’s scored his third goal and England have (whisper it quietly) a relatively favourable route to the final, Sterling’s ownership will surely skyrocket.