Ian Rush has been sharing his thoughts on Liverpool players past and present this week – after being quizzed on Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling during an interview with 888sport.com.
Rush, our all time scorer with 346 goals, was full of praise for his latest successor as Liverpool’s number nine, who scored his first Premier League goal for the Reds on Monday evening against newly promoted Bournemouth.
The Welshman believes that the big-money signing from Aston Villa, who has netted twice in three appearances for us having got off the mark during a pre-season friendly against Swindon Town, could be the deciding factor between success and failure for us this season.
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“It’s very early doors but I was very excited when we signed him,” he said. “Benteke could be the difference between sixth and fourth and top four is a realistic target we have to be aiming at.”
Ironically, he’s already matched the Premier League goal tally of fellow Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, who was watching from the stands at Anfield earlier this week – having not even made the bench for any of our games since the end of last season.
Asked what had gone wrong with the former AC Milan man, Rush explained: “Look Balotelli is a great player but when you’re playing for Liverpool you have to put a shift in. It’s not just about the individual; you have to put a shift in for the team.
“Brendan has looked at it and thought he needs everyone pulling together. He has to learn that if he wants to continue playing for Liverpool the team comes first.”
While Balotelli still remains, one player that has departed this summer was Raheem Sterling, who joined Manchester City after a lengthy and ill-tempered transfer saga. Rush admits he was sad to see the youngster go but explains that the manner of his exit will forever sour his legacy at Liverpool.
“I wish him good luck but it was all done in the wrong way,” he said. “I don’t blame Raheem because he’s a young lad. It was his agent who most probably did all that. Manchester City were always going to get him in the end because of the amount of money but I think Liverpool conducted themselves in the right way.
“I’d have loved him to stay for another year and develop because he’s not the finished article. His left foot is a bit weak and he’s still got a lot to learn but he has the potential to be anything.
“The pressure on him now though is like the pressure Messi or Gareth Bales deal with. If he overcomes that he will develop into one of the best players in the world.”