Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling made an incredibly quick rise to the first team early this season, under new boss Brendan Rodgers, who clearly had little doubt over his abilities.
However, having made an impressive impact and even earning himself an England call-up late last year, it now appears that his current form is someway below the initial impact shown.
So much so that Rodgers explained in his press conference today that the 18-year old has simply “lost his zip”.
Since the turn of the year, Sterling has only made two league appearances. The cutting edge and fearless excitement in his game was withering towards the back end of 2012, and now he has been a missing figure in the Liverpool side with various new attacking options.
Rogers believes though that the missing “zip” is down to fatigue, and was expected.
“This is a kid we’re talking about, so we have to take a wee step back… It is so mentally and physically draining, this league. It hurts experienced professionals and this boy has stepped up from the academy, played football and earned a contract off that.”
You have to agree with Rodger to a point. Sterling was a frequently used player within Rodgers’ side before the turn of the year, and that would have affected him, given the fact that this is really his first full season.
It may come as good news to Liverpool fans however, that Rodgers is wise enough to recognize that Sterling needs a rest, and can’t be relied on too heavily. Former Liverpool youngster Michael Owen has recently claimed he was over-used and burnt out as a teenager.
Yes, Owen and Sterling are two different cases, but the now frequently-injured 33-year old is an example of what Rodgers is hinting too in Sterling.
However, I disagree that Sterling could not “kick another ball this season, [and still say] he’s had a good one.”
Sterling’s chances have, and will continue to be limited ever since the January transfer window. The arrivals of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have given Liverpool two new attacking options that are arguably of a higher quality than Sterling at his young age.
Liverpool’s Europa League elimination vs Zenit St Petersburg won’t have helped his chance of first-team football. Liverpool’s only remaining fixtures now are in the Premier League, so chances may be few in far between now for the potentially great Liverpool winger.