One of the summer's, and indeed even the decade's, most unpleasant, acrimonious and frankly tedious Premier League transfer sagas finally appears to be nearing its drawn-out conclusion, with BBC Sport confirming yesterday (12 July) that Manchester City have agreed terms on a £49m ($76.3m) deal to sign Liverpool contract rebel Raheem Sterling.
As is inevitably the case in modern sport, social media was abuzz with reactions ranging from those condemning Sterling for his conduct over recent months to rival supporters mocking City for lavishing such an eye-watering sum on a player who has yet to play 100 league games in his fledgling career.
Despite such tiresome moral preening and obvious sour grapes, however, it would seem to rational onlookers that this is a relatively rare example of a transfer that satisfies all parties involved.
Like most other clubs lucky enough to receive the backing of substantially wealthy owners, City have previously overpaid for players – although they have also sought good value in the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany – and will unquestionably do so again in the future.
But ultimately, what does it really matter to City if they are forced to pay an inflated fee or two this summer? In May 2014, the club were hit by a £49m fine, a transfer cap and restrictions relating to Champions League squad size as a result of breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
However, those restrictions have now been lifted after the club met the necessary requirements in 2014/15, leaving manager Manuel Pellegrini, chief executive Ferran Soriano, director of football Txiki Begiristain and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak relatively free to spend what is necessary over the coming months to improve an underperforming squad that trailed champions Chelsea by an eight-point margin last term.
And for all the exaggerated claims about Sterling being inexperienced and yet to win any major honours, let us not forget that despite the considerable knocks sustained to his reputation over recent months, on the pitch he remains an exceptionally talented young forward with unlimited potential who will instantly improve Pellegrini's options.
As well as that, the deal also provides a timely boost to City's homegrown quota. Current Premier League rules stipulate that a top-flight squad of 25 must include at least eight players who have been registered with a club affiliated to the Football Association (FA) for a minimum of three years prior to turning 21.
City's summer transfer business thus far – bidding farewell to the likes of Frank Lampard, Micah Richards, James Milner, Scott Sinclair and Gael Clichy, among others – has had a dramatic impact on their ability to meet that quota. Sterling's arrival will certainly help in that regard, particularly given prospective midfield target Fabian Delph's somewhat surprising decision to remain at Aston Villa.
Liverpool also appear to have played this whole situation rather well. After it was strongly hinted at by the player himself in April and then made explicitly clear by explosive quotes attributed by the London Evening Standard to controversial agent Aidy Ward, Sterling was never likely to sign a contract extension despite the radically increased financial incentives on offer and to get such a handsome figure for his services is just reward for their measured reaction.
What the imminent sale does do, though, is place yet more scrutiny on the performance of Brendan Rodgers. Following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona last year, the Reds boss was widely criticised for largely wasting the spoils on a series of underwhelming signings that contributed to his side failing to retain their place in the top four.
Rodgers obviously still retains the support of owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG), but for how long will that patience last if once again he fails to appropriately and successfully reinvest such a significant windfall?
Liverpool have already made six signings this summer in the form of Danny Ings, Milner, Adam Bogdan, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, but further strengthening will now surely be demanded as not one of those aforementioned new recruits can act as a direct replacement for Sterling.
Another party to consider as big winners in the Sterling stakes is Queens Park Rangers, the club where the 20 year old spent his formative years before moving to Anfield for an initial £500,000 fee in 2010.
Due to a smart 20% sell-on clause inserted into that particular agreement, the recently relegated Championship side, currently awaiting their own punishment from the Football League relating to FFP matters, could, according to Sky Sports, receive as much as £9.8m if that aforementioned £49m is paid up-front.