Brendan Rodgers singled out Raheem Sterling for a special mention after his side's 3-1 pre-season defeat to Manchester United last night.
Brendan Rodgers singled out Raheem Sterling for praise after his side’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the International Champions Cup final.
The Reds went down to an improving United side in the final of the pre-season tournament out in America, but Sterling still managed to put in an eye-catching display.
He won the penalty for the opening goal of the match, after some neat-footwork encouraged Phil Jones to dive in, and was Rodgers’ side’s most potent attacking outlet throughout.
It was a performance that did not go un-noticed by his manager, despite the disappointing result, either.
"I thought he was outstanding and was a real threat,” he said. “Raheem is tactically aware for such a young player and is so exciting to watch. When he runs at defenders he creates many opportunities.
"At 19 years of age he is a real talent and is getting better all the time."
Sterling’s form over the course of last season was one of the biggest positives for the club, in what was an encouraging season for them as they breached the top four again.
The 19-year-old is arguably England’s biggest prospect in recent times – with his combination of pace, power and trickery proving a potent outlet already at the very top level.
And he will be expected to step-up again this year, as he establishes himself as one of Liverpool’s key players – despite his tender years.
The squad will need to show that they can cope without Luis Suarez, after the Uruguayan departed for Barcelona, and Sterling’s form will be imperative for them retaining their Champions League status.
The positive for Rodgers is that his wonder-kid appears to have simply carried his momentum from the back-end of last season into the new one.
He was one of very few members of England’s World Cup squad to come out of the competition with any credit, after some excellent displays in Brazil, and his pre-season with the Reds has been equally impressive.
The problem is that most youngsters, regardless of their talent, suffer from inconsistency, but Sterling really cannot afford to have a dip this season with Liverpool’s team looking markedly less threatening without him in it.