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Brendan Rodgers has admitted writing Raheem Sterling a letter during the summer after the player endured a difficult first season at Manchester City.
The youngster came to prominence at Liverpool under Rodgers and played a big part in the club's second-placed finish in the 2013-14 season.
At the end of the 2015-15 campaign Sterling moved to City for a £49m fee and it came after an unseemly battle with the club to get his transfer was played through the media.
With many ex-Liverpool now working in the media attacking Sterling for wanting to leave the club, the former QPR trainee was under huge pressure last year at City and was also regularly booed at away grounds, a practice which was exacerbated by a hate campaign run by the tabloid press in England after the national side's dismal showing at Euro 2016.
However, Rodgers has revealed that he never fell out with Sterling during the protracted transfer struggle and believes the targeting of him to be completely unfair.
“I sent him a big message at the start of this season just to say – ‘Don’t forget who you are, don’t try to be something that you’re not," he said. "You’re a dynamic player.’ I didn’t know we were going to play against City [Rodgers' new club Celtic will face City in the Champions League group stages] or I’d have told him he’d better not perform against us!
“He’s back to where he was at with me and I mean that only to say that he is at that same level again. He’s drifted since he left Liverpool but he’s now back as the player that he is. You can see he’s being coached and he’s playing to his strengths.
“I never had issues with Raheem, Yes, there was that moment where we made a point to him early on, but that was it really. He had a personality but he could accept that and hopefully if you speak to him he would say we had a really close relationship.
“A lot of things that were being said when he left were naughty really. There were people trying to create the move, things being instigated that were not right and the final straw was that he had fallen out with the manager.
“That was never the case. The kid had been round at my house having a meal or playing with his daughter and my family, you know?
“He is a good boy, a really coachable boy and a wonderful young man. People don’t realise that. This kid gets a lot of stick when he travels round the country but he’s one of the nicest you’ll ever come across. It got difficult for him towards the end at Liverpool but I’m so happy for him that he’s now back playing really well.
“He had so much enthusiasm and was so dynamic as a kid. He came into that team when he’d just turned 17 and was a breath of fresh air. For two years he was up there with the best young players in the world. He was sensational in every aspect.
“He gave his all for Liverpool and got a £49 million move. Maybe he lost his identity going into a club with all those superstars. He’s only 21 so all he needed was a bit of coaching time and direction and now you see the benefits of it."
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