Liverpool's Raheem Sterling defended over 'big club' ambition
Raheem Sterling should not be criticised for "being ambitious and wanting to win trophies", according to former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton.
The Liverpool forward, 20, is expected to tell manager Brendan Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre on Friday that he wants to leave Anfield this summer.
Several former Reds players have since criticised Sterling and his agent.
"I don't think it's about money," said Sutton, who feels Sterling "only wants to go to a big club".
Sutton, who left relegated Blackburn to join Chelsea for £10m in 1999, added on BBC Radio 5 live: "Should we be criticising Sterling for being ambitious and wanting to win trophies?
"Liverpool have spent one season in six in the Champions League and have won one trophy in the last nine years."
|Analysis: BBC Sport's Phil McNulty|
|"Liverpool owner John W Henry will not be bounced into a sale, bullied by requests to leave or held to ransom by Sterling and his representative Aidy Ward. Nor should he be."|
Sterling rejected a new £100,000-a-week contract in April but denied being a "money-grabber" in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport which was not authorised by his club.
Rodgers' side have missed out on a place in next season's Champions League and the Ulsterman is the first Reds boss to fail to win a trophy in his first three seasons since the 1950s.
The club insist they want to keep Sterling, whose existing deal ends in 2017.
Former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas said he, too, sympathised with the England international.
"It's up to Raheem what he wants to do with the rest of his career," he told 5 live's Wednesday Night Club.
"He might look around that changing room and not fancy the club will be able to do it over the next couple of years. People from the outside would have to understand that.
"But my issue lies with the way it's been handled. He is a young lad and all this has been dumped on him. It's been pretty amateur."
Former Liverpool winger John Barnes has said Sterling should stay at Anfield, claiming he would not be guaranteed regular first-team football elsewhere as he has still "not achieved anything".
John Aldridge, who played for Liverpool between 1987 and 1989, said Sterling had been given "woeful advice from his agent" and that "everyone in the game" felt it would be best for his development to stay.