Could Rodgers' mismanagement of Sterling affect forward's Liverpool future?

An objective look reveals that the Reds boss has used his star youngster all wrong this season.

So this is what it's come down to at Liverpool.

Last season, Luis Suarez was the world's form player, almost leading the Reds to a Premier League title. Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, was a teenager who had shown enough form to just about make it into Brendan Rodgers' first team - before then becoming one of the continent's form young players himself.

Now, Suarez is gone. And Sterling looks as though he could be playing the same game as the Uruguayan. The 20-year-old is reportedly unwilling to sign a £70,000 per week deal. Why should he, really? He has all the leverage in any bargaining process.

And Liverpool's current struggles are hardly going to make Sterling think this is a club he absolutely has to stick with.

Yes, loyalty would be nice - but there are so many reasons the young forward would be better off leaving the Reds. One many observers may not have realised is the fact that boss Rodgers is actually using him woefully wrong.

How many times this season has Sterling been injured, tired (let's leave the jokes, shall we...) or unfit, only for the Liverpool boss to play him more than anyone else in times of need.

This 20-year-old who needs time and patience to unlock his potential is being thrown into every game in the worst circumstances possible. He barely has anyone he can link up with, so bad is Liverpool's front line right now.

And where exactly has Rodgers been playing Sterling - his best forward player? Down the right-hand side, often so far wide he is completely ineffective when it comes to the final third. As the Liverpool Echo have explored lately, Sterling is far better down the middle.

If your manager doesn't know how to handle you, then, are you really going to be keen to sign a new deal?

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch