Raheem Sterling should be named player of the tournament if England beat Italy to win Euro 2020, according to Jamie Carragher.
With the 26-year-old having rounded off last season with just one goal from his last 16 appearances for Manchester City, it was suggested that his England starting place might be under threat.
However, he has come alive at the tournament, scoring the Three Lions’ first three goals (two of which were winners), grabbing an assist, and winning the penalty that booked a place in the final.
And former England international Carragher believes those contributions have marked him out as the star man of Euro 2020.
“Nobody has been able to cope with Sterling in this tournament,” he told Sky Sports. “If England go on to win he will win player of the tournament – he has been outstanding.
“His position was questioned before the tournament after not having his best season at Man City but from what we have seen Sterling always has to be in this England team.
“The pace he provides, the goals he provides. He has become a major goal threat under Gareth Southgate.
“We can talk about how Italy can stop him, but if he makes runs in behind the centre-backs and the right full-back then he can be a threat.
“An obvious change at some stage would be Jack Grealish coming on and playing down the left and Sterling going down the right to have a go at Emerson from Chelsea, who has not played a lot of football this season.
“He is the one who can cause Italy some real problems.”
England have yet to concede an open-play goal at this summer’s tournament – thanks in no small part to the work of a midfield shield comprised of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice.
And Carragher thinks their role will be key again in the final if Gareth Southgate’s side are to get over the line.
He continued: “Midfield is key for England, if England don’t get the centre of midfield right, that is where they could have a huge problem.
“Italy are really strong through the centre of the pitch – certainly at centre-back and central midfield, there is a lot of onus on England’s midfield three in this game.
“If they perform and can get after the Italians midfield then England have certainly got enough in the attacking areas of the pitch to win the game.
“But midfield is a real strength of Italy so that is where England have really got to get on top and make it difficult, so it will be up to Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Mason Mount in there.
“A lot has been made about the centre-back partnership – outstanding, legendary players for their country and for Juventus [but] you shouldn’t forget how old they are though.
“I think England can out run them basically in this game, the energy from the bench will be vital as it was in the Denmark game.
“It will be really tight game – I think we are looking at the best two teams in this tournament, certainly on form, so I think it’s the right final.”
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