Glen Johnson has been left baffled by Jordon Ibe’s rapid decline at Bournemouth, telling talkSPORT (2 July, 11am) that the reported Celtic and Crystal Palace was once ‘training better than Raheem Sterling’ at Liverpool.
It is easy to scoff at such claims now, with Sterling now firmly established as a Premier League superstar at Manchester City while his former Anfield team-mate finds himself on the breadline at the age of just 24.
But Liverpool fans with long memories will tell you that Johnson has a point.
During the latter days of Brendan Rodgers’ reign, Ibe was viewed by many as a more decisive, powerful and influential presence than a fresh-faced Sterling who, at the time, was yet to add a much-needed ruthless streak to his game.
“There was a stage at Liverpool when he was training better than Raheem Sterling,” Johnson, the former Liverpool and England right-back, remembers.
“He was that good. I remember saying to a few of my mates ‘this kid is going to be the next big thing’. He was fantastic.
“But he’s gone (to Bournemouth) and it’s not worked.”
You can say that again.
After slipping down the pecking order under Jurgen Klopp, Ibe become Bournemouth’s record signing, setting the South Coast club back £15 million and £40,000-a-week in wages.
But in 73 Premier League games under Eddie Howe, the one-time Wycombe Wanderers starlet produced just three goals and seven assists.
There is still a player in there somewhere, as reflected by interest from both Celtic and Crystal Palace (Mirror, 28 June, page 74). But whether Neil Lennon or Roy Hodgson can turn around a player who’s career appears to be in freefall is anyone’s guess.