By Coral Barry
Raheem Sterling would not be a professional footballer without his blistering pace, according to Joey Barton.
The England international has come in for heavy criticism during Euro 2016 after a string of mediocre displays and Barton has made an even more scathing assessment of Sterling by insisting he does not possess the necessary technical ability to be a professional footballer.
Sterling is in line for a recall to the England starting eleven in their last-16 Euros tie with Iceland on Monday night, but Rangers midfielder Barton has slammed his fellow countryman ahead of the crucial clash.
“Raheem Sterling has been poor for two years now,” said Barton, writing in his L’Equipe column, as quoted by The Mirror.
“Unfortunately, he has not been coached well enough. If you take away his pace, he is really weak, very limited technically.
“With his final ball, he is imprecise or clumsy. Without his pace, would he be a professional?
“If he weren’t so quick, he would not be apt to do the job. And to think he cost £50m!
“I am really perplexed to see him in the national team after the season he has had. With France, Germany, Belgium or Spain, he would never be picked.”
Sterling moved to Manchester City a big money move a year ago after making a name for himself at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.
The 21-year-old, who joined the Anfield academy from QPR at the age of 15, commanded a £49million fee after scoring 23 goals and providing 25 assists in 129 appearances for the Reds.
Sterling was tasked with taking over the mantle from Luis Suraez when he left Liverpool for Barcelona and although his campaign tailed off in the second half of his final season on Merseyside, he finished the 2014-15 campaign with 11 goals and ten assists in all competitions.
Despite demonstrating bursts of impressive form, Barton believes incoming Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola will have a lot of work on his hands with Sterling if he decides to keep him at the club.
The Rangers player said: “For England, he is a starter and that says we are not that well stocked in the attacking department. I don’t want to write him off completely because he is still young.
“With Guardiola, we will know within three weeks: either he will cut from the group because he will find him not good enough technically or he will help him get better.
“But your touch on the ball, the quality of your control, I don’t know if you can learn that at 21-years-old.”