Liverpool hero John Barnes has warned Raheem Sterling leaving Anfield will be a huge mistake.
Last week, reports emerged suggesting Sterling had turned down a contract offer of £70,000 a week from the Merseyside club for being "nowhere near acceptable", immediately throwing his future in doubt.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has moved to play down talk of an impasse between the club and player but reports of interest from European giants Bayern Munich and Real Madrid has inevitably emerged.
But Barnes, who spent 10 years at Anfield between 1987 and 1997, has urged Sterling to commit himself the club, pointing to Wilfried Zaha's struggles at Manchester United, following his move from Crystal Palace, as a warning to the youngster.
"It would be a blow if Sterling leaves, but how well is he really playing to warrant more than £75,000 a week?" Barnes told talkSPORT.
"He's had one very good season and he is not the finished article. He still has to improve and leaving Liverpool now would be a mistake.
"We have seen it before with Zaha leaving Crystal Palace and going to Manchester United. When a young player, after one good season, gets an opportunity to go, is that the right thing for his career?
"I think he should stay for four or five years and prove his consistency to show he can handle any situation in any country. It would be a bad move for him to leave [now]."
Liverpool have remained locked in talks with Sterling in order to thrash out a deal and Rodgers is quietly confident of reaching an amicable agreement sooner rather than later.
Rodgers said: "The club are working very hard [on a new contract]. Raheem's happy here and loves being a Liverpool player. I am sure between them and his representatives we can get a deal done that sees him continue to develop what is an exciting career."