Raheem Sterling now under pressure - Mark Lawrenson

Sterling not 'money-grabbing 20-year-old'

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling should stay at the club but is now "under pressure" after talking about his future, says former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson.

The 20-year-old England winger told BBC Sport he is motivated by trophies and not money after rejecting a contract worth £100,000 a week.

Sterling says he will address a new deal at the end of the season.

"He's come a long way in a very short period of time and he needs to remember that a little bit," said Lawrenson.

"I have to feel that he will sign a contract at Liverpool but whether it's haggling for money, whether it's over his own place in the team, I'm not sure.

"He's 20 and not going to Real Madrid or Barcelona or Paris St-Germain. He's not at that level and he has a lot of work to do.

"He's a very good and promising player so you hope he will vastly improve, but he's at the right club now and there's no bias from me as a former Liverpool player. The club have looked after him extremely well."

Match of the Day pundit Lawrenson said he was "really surprised" that Sterling decided to speak out but he believes what the youngster said. "It would be extremely silly to do that interview and not tell the truth."

In his interview, Sterling said it was "quite flattering" to be linked with Arsenal, whom the Reds visit on Saturday. The former QPR player has two years left on his contract worth £35,000 a week.

Lawrenson, who won five league titles with Liverpool and a European Cup, added: "The pressure really now comes back onto him.

"He didn't play really well in the defeat by Manchester United, and if he doesn't play well against Arsenal, the press will say it's playing on his mind, the supporters will say he's not giving his all, so sell him. It's a strange situation."

Raheem Sterling

'Liverpool could cope with Sterling exit'

In addition to interest from the Gunners, Manchester City and Real Madrid have also been linked with the forward.

But Lawrenson said Liverpool would cope if Sterling decided to leave Anfield and believes boss Brendan Rodgers would benefit from taking a relaxed approach.

"I wouldn't say it would be a massive blow," said the former Republic of Ireland international of a potential departure.

"If you look at the evolution of Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers, it's about getting new and young players, raising their value and if you occasionally hit the jackpot a la Luis Suarez, then take the money and rebuild the team.

"The manager now has to manage. The first thing you say to Sterling is: 'forget about all this, we have points to play for, we want to finish in the top four for the Champions League, and we want to win the FA Cup'.

"It's almost a case of: 'over to you'."

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor believes Sterling has the right to consider his options but admitted the situation was "untidy".

Taylor said: "I don't think it's meant to be a sign of disloyalty to Liverpool.

"Even Steven Gerrard, a Liverpool man all his career, had to think about his situation from time to time when there was a great deal of interest in him from other clubs.

"It is a little bit untidy however when the negotiating is taking place in the full glare of the media."

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:
"Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard were players to build a team around. Sterling has not had time to reach that sort of stature. It may happen in the future but if he were to leave now it would be a setback, but not a mortal one."
Read more of McNulty's thoughts on Sterling

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