The Liverpool boss insists the first stage of his prodigious 19-year-old’s career bares comparison with the Portuguese superstars early days at Manchester United
Brendan Rodgers believes Raheem Sterling should look to Cristiano Ronaldo for inspiration as he aims to build on his immense potential.
At 19, Sterling has already become a key player for Liverpool and England, earning selection for last summer’s World Cup in Brazil and impressing even in a struggling Reds side this term.
Rodgers insists the first stage of his prodigious winger’s career bares comparison with the Portuguese superstar’s early days at Manchester United and, with the pair set to face off when Liverpool take on Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, has challenged the youngster to use the reigning Ballon d’Or winner’s success as the path to follow.
“You could argue that, at 19, Raheem has had a similar impact as Ronaldo had when he came to the country; that game [Manchester United against Bolton in August 2003] when he first came on as sub and made an impact,” Rodgers told reporters.
“Certainly in these past couple of years, Raheem has made a similar impact at the beginning of his career. It’s now about going to those next levels with the second part of his curve.
“The first part is coming in and establishing yourself as a young player — it’s not easy earning that respect. Now, hopefully, he’ll move on. He won’t have a better role model than Ronaldo.
“He’s super-efficient. What I’ve loved about Ronaldo is that you talk about persistence and professionalism in life — this is a guy who turned up for the Ballon d’Or four years on the trot, probably thinking on a couple of occasions that he’s going to be close to winning it.
“The little guy [Messi] is a genius and I’m a massive admirer of his talent, but Ronaldo kept going, kept fighting and then deservedly won it last year. And if you’re talking about the last year, you have to say Ronaldo has been the best player in terms of club and, arguably, international football.”