'He can go to a new level' - Liverpool boss Rodgers talks up England international

Raheem Sterling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that Raheem Sterling can take his performances to "a new level" this coming season.

The 19-year-old Sterling was given his debut in the dying embers of Kenny Dalglish's reign back in 2012, but it has been under Rodgers that the teenager has truly thrived.

The Northern Irishman gave the youngster a start in his first match at Anfield in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City back in August 2012, and Sterling made 24 appearances for the Reds in his breakthrough season.

However, it was last term that Sterling began to make his mark in the Premier League and he scored 10 goals in all competitions as the five-time European Cup winners came as close as they have to landing their first title in 24 years.

The teenager shone in the final few months of the campaign, and Rodgers moved the talented wideman in field to a more central attacking midfield role, and his eye-catching form saw him named in England's 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Following the departure of Luis Suarez, who was sold for £75 million to Barcelona last month, Rodgers has backed the versatile Sterling to fill the void left by the 31-goal PFA and FWA Player of the Year.

He told reporters: “Something we said to Raheem when he first broke into the team, and something we’ve reiterated, is that you have to have an identity as a player.

“His identity is he has to score goals and create goals. That’s what the job is. He scored 10 goals last year and this kid is only going to get better.

"When you’re so young, it’s important to understand exactly what your role is, not just look good. You have to be efficient and effective.

"His development has gone to a new level. He’s way above the level from when he first came in. Tactically, technically, and what has been beautiful to watch with Raheem has been his maturity, he’s turning into a beautiful young man, with all the responsibility.

“He’s taking it all in his stride and now he’s in a good place with every part of his game. It’s just about maintaining that commitment to his work. He’s still only 19, but in big games he’s performed and he’s a wonderful talent.”

Sterling has arguably been the Reds' standout performer in pre-season following his return. He netted a superb equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City on the club's tour of the United States before seeing a stunning finish ruled out for offside in the same match.

The former QPR youngster terrorised Manchester United for the 45 minutes as Rodgers' side slipped to a 3-1 reverse in the final of the International Champions Cup in Miami's Sun Life Stadium.

And he capped off a fine succession of warm-up games with a superb display as the Reds beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool host Southampton on Sunday in their opening Premier League fixture.

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