Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling has been tipped to become the Premier League’s best player by Besiktas manager Slaven Bilic.
Bilic, who formerly played for Everton, takes his side to Anfield on Thursday night for the first leg of the Europa League last-32 tie - and is well aware of the threat the live-wire England international poses.
The former Croatia manager also had some interesting advice for the 20-year-old on how to become a better goalscorer.
Bilic: Sterling can become the best
“He can be the next big player in English football. The best,” Bilic told The Sun. “He’s got the speed and the confidence.
“He’s not the strongest but he’s everything but afraid. He goes into tackles and is very strong. Most definitely he can be. He’s not yet but he can be and he should be.
Bilic's advice for Sterling
“His finishing needs to improve, yeah, but you know what? His legs are too quick to be calm in front of the keeper. Sometimes he should slow down his strikes.
“He’s coming into most of his chances in lighting speed and should slow down. It comes with experience. It came to Thierry Henry. He will never be like Robin van Persie. Sterling is not a typical goalscorer.
“He’s young. He’s going to improve his finishing, everything. But whether he’s going to be Alan Shearer I don’t know.”
Sterling flourishing at Liverpool
Sterling has scored nine goals in all competitions this season, and needs one more to match last season’s tally of 10 in 38 appearances.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has opted to use the Kingston-born attacker in a slightly more advanced role on occasions this season, but his most effective position is arguably on either wing or behind one central striker.
His rapid pace makes him a dangerous weapon against any opponent, while his excellent performances over the course of 2014 led him deservedly picking up the coveted Golden Boy Award - an accolade previously won by the likes of Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba and Lionel Messi.
Sterling’s on-pitch understanding with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez also led Liverpool to come agonisingly close to winning their first league title since 1990 last season.
But in recent weeks there has been much speculation surrounding the youngster’s future, with Real Madrid reportedly interested in securing his services.
Rodgers recently admitted that Sterling has been offered an "incredible" new contract - understood to be worth close to £100,000-a-week, according to the Telegraph - but the Liverpool star, his agent and the Merseyside outfit have yet to reach an agreement over the deal.
Earlier this season Liverpool favourite Jamie Carragher took to Twitter to blast Sterling’s agent for apparently “feeding stories about his contract” - but the Reds have no reason to panic just yet: the forward’s current deal does not expire until 2017.
Regardless, Liverpool know the longer negotiations continue to result in a stalemate, the more chance a club like Real Madrid has of luring Sterling away from Anfield.
Sterling can become the Premier League's best
That Bilic has tipped Sterling to become the Premier League’s best player shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is a wonderfully-gifted player who could be sensational in four of five years’ time, once he has fully matured.
But can he fulfil his potential at Liverpool? Have your say in the comments below.
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