With Raheem Sterling At The Peak Of His Powers, What On Earth Went Wrong For His Liverpool Successor Jordon Ibe?
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2015. Wiz Khalifa was number one in the charts with ‘See You Again’, nobody had an issue with the European Union and America had a sane, sensible gentleman in charge of the country. Brendan Rodgers had never even heard of Glasgow let alone managed there, instead he was in charge of a pretty poor Liverpool side who had come off the back of a sixth-placed Premier League finish.
That Liverpool squad featured the likes Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling but they were forced to play alongside Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and Alberto Moreno, so you can see why they failed to build on their title challenge from the previous season.
There were a couple of young starlets in that team, however. The aforementioned Raheem Sterling had his sights set on a move to Manchester City in the summer and would soon leave for £44m, but all was okay as Liverpool had another tricky breakthrough winger in their ranks, Jordon Ibe.
Ibe had impressed off the bench in glimpses that season to the extent that Liverpool legend John Aldridge told TalkSport: “Raheem is obviously a hugely talented player but Liverpool have a top replacement in Jordon Ibe.
"I think he's got as much, if not more, potential than Raheem and will go on to be a better player."
The following season he did feature in Liverpool’s side making 27 Premier League appearances (13 starts) although the Reds finished eighth, missed out on European football, and Leicester won the league. That was a crazy season for all involved.
At Melwood, Brendan Rodgers was replaced by Jurgen Klopp in October but Ibe’s only Premier League goal that season came on the final day. It proved to be, in the words of JoJo, too little too late for Ibe and he was sold to Bournemouth in the summer with Liverpool bagging a huge £15m for a player who had not yet established himself in the top flight. For some reason, the plaudits and high expectations kept piling in from former players and pundits.
After his move to the south coast, Jamie Redknapp told the Bournemouth Echo:
“I think he has more natural ability than Raheem Sterling. Anything Raheem Sterling struggles with, Jordon Ibe can do.”
This unfair pressure heaped onto the young man as he was developing surely cannot have helped his progress, neither was being compared to Sterling with every touch of the ball he took.
Sterling has come on leaps and bounds under Pep Guardiola at Man City. He has been one of the two standout players in the league this season along with Virgil Van Dijk at Liverpool and those two are battling it out to win the PFA Player of the Year award. Meanwhile, Jordon Ibe has scored just two league goals for Bournemouth as he approaches the end of his third full season at the club.
Eddie Howe does brilliantly with the squad he has at Dean Court but Jordon Ibe for all his pace and trickery seems to float in and out of the squad entirely, rarely starting a game. With his contract up next summer, Bournemouth could look to move on the 23-year-old this summer while they can get some money for him. Having said that, other Premier League clubs may not want to take the risk on the Englishman and he may have to drop down to the Championship to reignite his career.
This seems like a classic example of a young player being hyped up too early in their career before they have had the chance to develop. Ibe was nowhere near the level of Sterling when he broke into the first team at Liverpool yet he was their big new hope in a desperate time.
If he had been given the chance to develop he may be further along in his career however now he must reignite his career and take risks before he is just another forgotten English talent.