Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has singled out Raheem Sterling for praise ahead of his side's Capital One Cup quarter final against Bournemouth.
The 20-year-old was used as a centre-forward - in the absence of Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge - against Manchester United on Sunday, hitting the target with four of his five shots, but was denied a goal by yet another man-of-the-match performance from David de Gea.
Ahead of the game against Bournemouth, Rodgers said: “I think he’s been outstanding. The kid played in a front role for me at the weekend, as a striker, moving across the line. He’s played there as a young player with QPR and he’s played there for Liverpool.
“Maybe he could have got a goal at the weekend, but I thought he was absolutely outstanding. He puts defenders on the back foot. He’s intelligent in his game, his running ability, speed and ability to press the ball.”
Liverpool have struggled this season and find themselves in 11th in the Premier League with 21 points from 16 games, their worst start to a season in 50 years.
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Despite the team’s poor season, Sterling has been one of the stand-out performers this campaign with three goals and four assists to his name, more than any other player at the club.
Rodgers added: “He’s getting himself into some wonderful positions. The kid has been a real catalyst for us, in terms of our attacking threat. He’s such a big talent and he’s just turned 20 years of age.”
Days could be numbered
Rodgers' praise will only highlight the winger’s importance to the club though; Sterling has two and a half years left on his current deal but he has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Liverpool are desperate to tie their young star down to a new deal with Bayern Munich also rumoured to be interested but Sterling is reportedly dragging his feet over a new contract and holding out for more than £70,000-per-week.