Raheem Sterling
Sterling has given cause to doubt that he will stay at Liverpool beyond the end of his current contract.Getty Images

Phil Neville looks to have provided something of a reality check to Raheem Sterling, expressing doubts that the Liverpool attacker would be able to secure regular first-team football in the event that he were to complete a transfer to Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United.

Sterling's future at Anfield was thrown into serious doubt earlier this week, when the England international sought to clarify previously unsubstantiated rumours regarding his contract situation by confirming in a specially arranged interview that he has indeed rejected new terms that would have seen his weekly wage rise significantly to £100,000-per-week.

With the 20-year-old's current deal due to expire in 2017, that admission led to a plethora of transfer rumours suggesting that Sterling is likely to attract attention during the next transfer window from a range of top clubs from both the Premier League and across Europe.

However Neville, the former Manchester United and Everton stalwart who now works as a pundit, evidently believes the player's career would be best served for the foreseeable future by staying put rather than gamble on achieving success elsewhere.

"I don't think he would get into Chelsea's team with Diego Costa there," he said on the BBC prior to Liverpool's heavy 4-1 defeat to Arsenal.

"Would he make Manchester City's team with Sergio Aguero there? Manchester United with Wayne Rooney there?"

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who seemed pleased with Sterling's individual performance at the Emirates Stadium despite the comprehensive defeat, is unhappy with the way he has been advised in recent weeks and that is a stance with which Neville obviously agrees.

He added: "It has been horrifically mismanaged – not just this week. I was reading about this last April. This is a 20-year-old who should just be concentrating on playing football. I think Liverpool have to play hardball with Sterling.

"As for Sterling, it is fine having agents, but at some point you have to take ownership of your own career and say: 'I want to sign a contract. I am at the right club at the right time.' At the moment, he is at the best club who are helping him to develop and giving him a platform to play. They have stood by him and given him a good contract. He has 27 months left on that contract.

"In two years, if he wants to play with Real Madrid and his career goes in the right direction, he will still be able to do that. But at the moment he should get on with playing football."

While Rodgers is adamant that Liverpool do not have to sell Sterling, a failure to qualify for the Champions League is unlikely to do much to convince the former QPR trainee that he is in the best place to compete for regular silverware over the coming seasons.

The defeat to Arsenal, coupled with Manchester United's comfortable 3-1 win over Aston Villa, left Liverpool seven points adrift of fourth-place Manchester City with Manuel Pellegrini's side due to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 6 April.