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Sterling Aims to Extend Liverpool Career

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It's easy to forget that Raheem Sterling is still just 19 years old, and while this season hasn't quite gone according to plan, the promising young forward has underlined his intention to carry on at Liverpool for years to come.

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There are a select few Liverpool players who have provided anything in the way of consistent inspiration this season--Emre Can and Alberto Moreno have been the class of the young summer signings, Adam Lallana's made the most of the confusingly spare opportunities he's been afforded, and a handful of others have shined in isolated moments.

Raheem Sterling has fallen somewhere in between, with three goals early in the season and a handful of energetic performances reminiscent of the sparkling form he displayed over the course of the second half of last season. Unfortunately he's also shown signs of fatigue both physically and mentally, with Brendan Rodgers' decision to select him at nearly every turn during a busy September stretch leading to an overblown back-and-forth in the press regarding what amounted to a fairly minor comment during training to Roy Hodgson while on England duty.

That's been but one moment to forget in a season full of them, and while the 19-year-old would be forgiven for having a more cynical outlook given recent events, Sterling is looking forward to making more positive memories for years to come at Liverpool:

"I wasn't in the team at the start of last season. I was not playing as much, but I knew I could develop and would get the chance to turn things around. My big moment was being on the sidelines - on the bench. That time out really helped me. If I could see myself two years ago I would just say, ‘Listen to the advice the people around you - particularly the manager - are giving you'. Stay focused on playing football only and lead a professional lifestyle from the word go. Get better every day, not just in playing, but everything. That was probably my slight weakness in that I was not leading the lifestyle I should have been off the pitch - not resting when I should have been, stuff like that. That is something I have brought in with maturity, having that rest period I should have.

"As a young player it is difficult to sometimes impose yourself on games, but it is something that I am learning to do and something I need to deal with if I want to get to the level I feel I can reach. It is something I need to accept and hopefully I can cope with it. That is what I am learning to do and hopefully that is shown in me making an impact on the pitch. The club has spoken to my representatives and hopefully something can be done really soon. Hopefully I can achieve the goals I want to achieve here at Liverpool in years to come. I am happy to be here for as long as possible, like the big names that are on that wall. I am just happy to play football at this football club for many years to come."

It's a reflective turn for a player who hasn't always made the headlines for the most positive reasons; he spent much of 2013 in spotlight for off-pitch issues, and he grew into the last campaign slowly after starting to adapt in the manner he describes above. It was always clear that his talent meant he was capable of having an impact, but putting together all the pieces--both on and off the pitch--remained a question mark.

The answers he provided over the course of the season's second half were resounding, and even though he's had a bumpy stretch through most of the fall, he has still managed to be one of the leaders in this Liverpool side. Comments like these only further the sentiment that he's made significant strides in terms of development and maturity, and, whether or not it's fair, he is the player most expect to reignite a Liverpool attack that's struggled in the absence of Daniel Sturridge.

That's an incredible achievement for a player his age, and hopefully his development continues as part of a Liverpool side that only gets better in the coming seasons.