Skipper encourages Sterling to put pen to paper…
Raheem Sterling’s captain Steven Gerrard has urged the 20-year-old sensation to stay at Liverpool for the next few years at least to maximise his potential, the Telegraph reports.
Gerrard watched Sterling score two goals against Bournemouth in the League Cup on Wednesday evening, but is aware that the wonderkid has yet to agree terms on a £75k-per week contract extension.
“I hope he signs a new contract at the club because I think this club is perfect for him, certainly for the next few years,” began Gerrard, who’s been playing closely alongside Sterling for both Liverpool and England (before his international retirement) for 18 months.
“He’s going to play most weeks, the fans love him here. He can progress here and become a top, top player here so I hope the people around him give him the right advice because he should stay here.”
In the past few weeks, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have been credited with an interest in Sterling, who’s on a £30k-per-week deal right now.
This term so far, Sterling leads both our goals and assists charts, but despite his young age, has still come under criticism – especially after missing a number of chances against Manchester United last Sunday.
Gerrard reckons that this was a minor blip, and has suggested Sterling’s new hairdo has helped him find the finishing touch shown against Bournemouth!
“It’s the haircut, wasn’t it?” smiled Gerrard.
“It was the reason why he scored! No one recognised him when he came in, he knocked about 10 years off with that haircut! He’s great to watch, great to play with, he’s got that pace. When you look up he’s always giving you an option and that’s what I’ve thrived on throughout my career at Liverpool with the likes of Fernando Torres, Michael Owen.
“There’s nothing better as a midfielder when you look up and see pace running in behind. I saw it on numerous occasions [against Bournemouth] and hopefully it will continue because it stretches teams and creates chances.”
The skipper is 14 years Sterling’s senior, and has highlighted that the youngster’s ability to play in a number of positions will aid his development.
Already this term, Sterling’s been used as a right winger, a left winger, a no.10 and a false 9.
“You’ve got to be able to have that [versatility] in your locker if you want to be top drawer,” Gerrard continued.
“Raheem’s got potential to be top drawer for sure. He took a lot of stick after the weekend [the loss to Manchester United] but I thought his all-round performance was magnificent, the only thing that was missing was a finish and that came [against Bournemouth].
“The exciting thing for all of us is that he’s English and going to be a top, top player. I think he can play anywhere along the front, he’s that intelligent. He’s got to keep learning, he’s got to keep wanting it.”
Sterling can expect to be start as a centre-forward against Arsenal at the weekend, due to Mario Balotelli’s once match ban for misconduct.