Phil Thompson believes Liverpool's failure to secure Champions League football will see Raheem Sterling leave the club this summer.
The Reds drew 1-1 with Chelsea last Sunday which left the Merseyside club six points behind fourth-place Manchester United with two games to go, effectively ending their chances of competing in next season's elite club competition.
There has been plenty of speculation that Sterling will leave Liverpool this summer, after it was widely reported that he rejected a new £100,000 a week contract. That news has prompted Europe's premier clubs including Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid to be on red alert.
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And Thompson feels that failure to compete in the Champions League will see Sterling leave Anfield, but, wherever the youngster is playing his football next term, he should be playing out wide.
“I think it will be very difficult for him to stay at Liverpool now. He’s shown all the signs that he’s ready and prepared to leave the club," the Sky Sports pundit told the Liverpool Echo.
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“But if he was to stay I would like to think his role will be on the flanks – I don’t think Liverpool can even contemplate him being their main striker next season, because he’s not a natural goalscorer.
“Liverpool need somebody who’s going to get you at least 15 league goals and maybe 25 overall – Raheem Sterling is not going to get you that.
“He’s done well for the team – he’s helped them out up front this season, but I think everyone can see that he’s not quite strong enough for it.
“So, no matter where he is next season, I think his best role is out wide rather than through the middle.”
Despite Sterling rejecting a new deal which would make him a millionaire in ten weeks, Brendan Rodgers is still confident that the England international will remain at Anfield.
It is Sterling's agent who has been widely criticised for corrupting him into greed and wants the playmaker to earn wages around £180,000 per week.
With the threat of another club poaching Sterling, Liverpool could be forced to meet his demands if they want to keep him. He has been one of the club's leading players this term, scoring 11 goals in all competitions, with only Steven Gerrard on a greater tally.
In a season were the Reds have struggled to find a front-man, Rodgers has turned to Sterling to play as a striker. He isn't a natural scorer, however, has offered his side much better movement and pace up top.
Many people have been at the throat of Sterling for demanding more money out of the Reds. Nonetheless, he has been one of the club's most prominent players this term but earned just £35,000 per week.
Sterling has seen the likes of Mario Balotelli, Glen Johnson and Fabio Borini all earn over double the amount that he has this term - Johnson earning almost four times more, in fact. The trio mentioned have all been fringe players in Rodgers' squad and picked up more in their weekly wage packet than Sterling.
The former Queen Park Rangers therefore wants his wages to be matched by the amount of football he's played and how much he's valued by his manager.
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