Raheem Sterling's stumbling decline since leaving Liverpool

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Football News

Raheem Sterling had the world at his feet this time 12 months ago.

He had just become the most expensive English footballer of all time at just 20-years-old and the general consensus was Manchester City had signed themselves one of the hottest young talents in the world.

But one year later, the wheels have come off and Leroy Sane's arrival at the Etihad has put Sterling under even more pressure to rediscover that form and talent which made him such an exciting teenager.

Having a £49 million price tag hanging around your neck at such a young age can be enough to distract even the most level-headed individual but for Sterling, it has been a tough ride dealing with the added expectation.

At Liverpool, the England international became the main man. Luis Suarez's departure, Daniel Sturridge's persistent injury problems and Steven Gerrard's diminishing influence had put the heavy burden of being the main creator at one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League on one of the squad's youngest members.

Brendan Rodgers gave him the freedom and confidence to thrive in England's top division and Sterling rewarded him with 23 goals, 25 assists and plenty more key contributions in a Reds side initially on the up.

There isn't much point speculating what would or could have happened if Sterling had rejected his current club's lucrative offer. We will never know if the winger would have kept Rodgers in a job or if the Jurgen Klopp effect could have taken him to the level many had expected him to reach by now.

What we do know is that Raheem Sterling faces a make-or-break season to show Pep Guardiola he can still live up to the hype.

Euro 2016 certainly didn't help his cause and in just three appearances, all of the weaknesses you wouldn't expect from a man worth nearly £50 million were highlighted.

Sterling's frustrating finishing and final delivery into the box left many England supporters tearing their hair out to such an extent that some even set up a crowdfunding page to send the Jamaica-born star home early from the tournament.

His swagger, naivety and no-fear approach gave Sterling an edge when he first burst onto the scene but since making the big money move, the 21-year-old has lost all three previously mentioned characteristics which epitomised his success.

Eleven goals and 10 assists doesn't represent a bad opening campaign at the Etihad but it was clear a spark wasn't quite there.

There's the obvious possibility that Sterling struggled to shine in amongst City's other big stars and therefore couldn't influence proceedings quite in the same manner he was used to.

With Guardiola at the helm and Sane costing even less than the player in question, Sterling will need to improve to ensure he doesn't join an unwanted list of players who struggle to live up to their price tags.

The infographic below shows City's new star, Sane, created four more goals and found the back of the net on two further occasions than Sterling last season.

But perhaps more concerning is Sterling's significantly higher minutes per goal/assist statistic. The ex-Liverpool ace cannot afford to drift in and out of matches when he pleases to stay in a team fighting for the title.

It might still be too early to come to a definitive conclusion whether Sterling may well live to regret leaving Anfield so soon in his career.

The best players in the world can perform on any and every stage and the former Golden Boy winner must now raise the intensity, quality and consistency if he is to one day reach the promised land Raheem Sterling looked destined for not too long ago.

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Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Raheem Sterling
Manchester City

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