Pitchside

Can Rodgers really call Sterling ‘the best young player in Europe’

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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has claimed that England winger Raheem Sterling is "the best young player in Europe".

Sterling, who scored twice and set up a third in the 3-2 Premier League win at Norwich, has received plaudits for his recent performances, which have helped fire Liverpool five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

[STERLING BRACE GIVES LIVERPOOL WIN]

And the former QPR trainee, whose off-field problems had looked set to derail a promising career, is now expected to go to the World Cup in Brazil, having struggled to get in the team last season.

"He is the best young player in European football at the moment," Rodgers claimed after Sunday's match.

"At 19 years of age you don't see anyone better. His intelligence with the ball, his movement and he's scoring goals.

"His first goal was a wonderful strike. He's just shifted it, got his shot off; to beat a goalkeeper of John Ruddy's quality shows you the quality of the strike.

"His pass for Luis' goal was like a top midfield player, so there's an assist, and his position for the counter attack when he broke away and obviously gets a bit of luck on the deflection but his overall performance he's shown so much maturity."

Rodgers should take great credit for Sterling's development, having quickly transformed him from a temperamental youngster with inconsistent end product to a mature, composed winger-forward whose decision making rivals that of veterans like Steven Gerrard.

But the best young player in Europe? The likes of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and, despite a recent loss of form, Barcelona forward Neymar may have something to say about that.

Rodgers possibly meant to say 'teenager' as opposed to 'young player'; indeed, Sterling is just 19, while Pogba and Neymar are 21 and 22 respectively.

Certainly his ability to rise to the occasion puts Sterling ahead of Adnan Januzaj in the reckoning - the Manchester United midfielder had been named by Gazzetta Dello Sport as Europe's top teen, but that claim can no longer be justified.

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