Liverpool stunted Raheem Sterling’s development by constantly playing him out of position, claims that Manchester City winger’s agent.
Sterling left the Reds to join City in a deal worth an initial £44million in the summer, and has enjoyed an encouraging first few months at the Etihad.
The England international has scored six goals in 15 games so far for City this season, and is already primed to surpass his last season at Anfield which saw him score 11 in 52 appearances.
The 20-year-old’s agent, Aidy Ward, believes Sterling is prospering at City not only because he is playing with “better players”, but also because he is given more “freedom” at the club in a more familiar position.
“Raheem is in a good place,” Ward told the Daily Mirror. “He is playing with better players for a manager, who gives him the freedom to express himself, and he is improving as a player in a team that is at the top of the Premier League and in the Champions League.
“He has gone up a tier. Manuel Pellegrini has played him in a wide role with the freedom to drift inside and he has also played as a central striker.
“That’s why he scored the first hat-trick of his professional career recently (against Bournemouth) – all of the goals coming in the first half.
“At Liverpool, Raheem was asked to play as a full-back, just like Emre Can was asked to play as a central defender when he is a midfielder. That wasn’t going to help him develop as a player.
“Moving to City was right for Raheem, even if Liverpool fans don’t want to accept that. At City, he now has a licence to thrill.
“Raheem is a £49million footballer, but he wants to become even better. That’s the mentality he has.
“He initiated finishing practice and the coaches at City were delighted with that attitude.”
Sterling will face Liverpool for the first time since leaving on November 21, the first game after the current international break, and Ward admits he doesn’t know whether the winger will celebrate if he scores at the Etihad.
“I don’t know what Raheem will do if he scores. If I was him, I’d celebrate like I would if I had scored against any other team. Perhaps he will,” Ward said.
“But that will be because he is happy to have scored for Man City. It will have nothing to do with that fact that it’s against Liverpool. Despite all the rubbish he’s had to deal with, Raheem isn’t a vindictive character.”