John Aldridge believes that Raheem Sterling’s current contract situation is having a negative effect on the youngster’s game.
Sterling recently stalled contract negotiations with Liverpool prior to their 2-1 loss to Manchester United last Sunday, claiming he wants to concentrate on helping the Reds finish in the top-four of the Premier League this season.
However, speculation is that Sterling is not happy with the £100,000 a week being offered by Liverpool and wants a higher wage increase.
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With a host of top European clubs rumoured to be in pursuit of the former QPR man including Real Madrid and Barcelona, Aldridge feels that recent events have effected Sterling’s game in a negative way.
“I hope and I pray that Raheem Sterling sees sense over his contract situation at Liverpool,” Aldridge wrote in his column for the Liverpool Echo.
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“And I hope he, or someone close to him, has a word with his agent, because he is doing the kid no favours.
“It seems that the situation is affecting Sterling's form. He played [against Manchester United] like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and that is not good.
“Those closest to him need to spell it out for him. The best place for him to be is at Liverpool, who have looked after him so well over the last four or five years. Liverpool have developed him into this player. Both Sterling, and his agent, need to realise this. And quickly.”
Sterling's performance against Manchester United was poor and done little to help the Reds capture a vital three points.
Throughout the game, he was completely out-played by Daley Blind, who pressed high and didn't allow the England international any room on the right-hand side.
Although he has shown on so many occasions that he is capable of winning games for Liverpool, he must go back to basics and rediscover the form that made him one of the Premier League's most feared players.
The Jamaica-native looks to be playing with half of his mind still on his contract negotiations. Considering he has stalled them to concentrate on playing football, he should be performing at a much higher level.
Last season, Brendan Rodgers' squad was weak and Sterling had little to compete with.
The likes of Victor Moses, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas sat on the Liverpool bench and Sterling was always picked ahead of them.
Granted, Sterling was top-class last season and would have waltzed into any side in the world but this season he has stiff competition and could easily lose his place in Rodgers' team if his form continues to fall.
Jordan Ibe has returned from his loan spell from Derby County and been impressive. The former Wycombe Wanderers man is a similar player to Sterling however, comparing the two in recent weeks, it is Ibe who looks to have the brighter future.
Ibe is not only blessed with speed and has excellent ball skills but has superior strength to Sterling.
Last Sunday, Blind showed that Sterling can struggle bringing the ball out of deep positions however Ibe has highlighted he is capable of this and is one of his greatest assits.
Lazar Markovic was signed for £20 million from Benfica last Sunday and although he hasn't made the impact some fans expected, he still has a massive reputation behind him. The Serbia international aided his former side to the Europa League final last season and netted seven goals throughout the season.
The Reds have been producing some excellent talent through their academy in recent years and Jerome Sinclair is another of them.
The 18-year-old has been in fine form for Liverpool U21s scoring goals against Manchester United and a superb solo effort against Chelsea and will be in the hunt for a first-team place following his loan spell at Wigan Athletic.