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John Mikel Obi believes Chelsea star Raheem Sterling is a shadow of himself because he failed to get England recall

Chelsea legend John Mikel Obi has criticised Raheem Sterling for becoming a shadow of himself after failing to earn a recall to the England national team earlier in the season.

The Blues lost the final of the Carabao Cup to Liverpool on Sunday, with the former Manchester City star and his teammates played off the park by a Liverpool side consisting of youth players, and Mikel Obi was far from impressed.

Sterling failed to inspire Chelsea, and the former midfielder believes his dip in form is a result of his failure to get back into the Three Lions squad.

“Definitely, I think he is miles off it, to be honest, at this point,” Mikel Obi said on the latest episode of Taking the Mikel/The Obi One Podcast.

“I think he is not the player that we saw at Manchester City or the player we were accustomed to watching and enjoyed the way he played.

“He has a low centre of gravity and he is a player like Eden Hazard that can go past people very easily, very fast, very quick, technically good on the ball.

“I think he actually started the season really well, I would probably say. He was playing well, he was creating chances, he was taking people on, he became like the Raheem Sterling that we know from before. I think he did all that because he wanted to get into the England team. The first call-up at the start of the season, his name wasn’t there, he was not called up. I think that took a knock to his confidence.

“After that, he just went, his head just went. Probably he just thought, ‘I have put up so much effort from pre-season hoping that I would get back into the England set-up and then the list came up, and I wasn’t there’.

“I think that took a massive knock on his confidence, and since then I haven’t seen the Raheem Sterling that started the season. He has been a shadow of himself, but I think he still has a lot to offer. Is it at Chelsea or is it somewhere else? That we will have to decide come the end of the season. He is definitely definitely miles off it. I think he knows that. How does he get back to that level? Only he can decide, he just has to keep working hard. He is a player the coach really likes. I like him, I like Raheem. I think he started the season really well, but right now, he is just not doing it. He is a shadow of himself, definitely.”

Sterling last played for England at the World Cup quarter-final in December 2022 and has been left out of the England squad for the fifth time in a row.

Despite a strong start to 2023-24 which saw the Chelsea forward bag two goals in the opening three league games, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate ignored him for the squad for the games against Ukraine and Scotland last August.

Sterling had started ten of Chelsea’s 11 league matches this season, scoring three times by the time another England squad was announced in November for the Euro 2024 Qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia, but the 29-year-old was once again omitted and will now consider himself in severe danger of missing out on the European Championships next summer.

He has bagged eight goals and four assists in 32 games across all competitions for the Blues this term, a return not good enough to earn him a recall ahead of the international break in March.

It is his last opportunity before the Euros start in June, and he needs to step up significantly if he wants to be in that squad given the plethora of attacking options available to Southgate.

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