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Liverpool legend John Barnes has claimed that Raheem Sterling made a mistake in joining Manchester City last summer. The former Anfield hero believes that Sterling's long-term career prospects would have been better served by staying with the Merseysiders.
Instead, the England international opted to swap Liverpool for the Etihad Stadium, agreeing to a transfer potentially worth £49m ($69m). Sterling has subsequently endured an up-and-down season, and Barnes has claimed he made a mistake in making the move so early into his career.
"What I always say is that young players who do well for one season and have got great potential should stay at their clubs for four or five years," the ex-Liverpool star told Omnisport. "Until you're sure of a four or five-year-period of consistent quality, all you are is potential. And unfortunately in this day and age and all of a sudden they go."
Barnes claimed Sterling would have benefited from staying with Liverpool because he would not have had an eyewatering transfer fee hanging over his head. "So I said for Raheem's sake that he should forget the money and should have stayed at Liverpool for himself to improve, where he's not being judged as a £50m player who's earning £180,000 a week," he said. "He's just judged as a player who's come through the ranks. But he's gone to Manchester City and you can see what's actually happened."
Barnes also offered the same advice to Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, both of whom have been linked with big-money moves away from their respective clubs.
"So that is why with Ross Barkley it's the same, he should stay at Everton, Harry Kane at Tottenham. Stay there to prove that you can do this for four or five years, not just one season," said Barnes, who played for Liverpool from 1987 until 1997.
"Then if you're ready for a move to what you may consider a bigger club, you're able to handle it. You've improved, you're the finished article, then you can be judged as a £50m player."