LONDON, June 18- Liverpool star Raheem Sterling is at the centre of a new laughing gas controversy, The Sun has reported.
The newspaper featured Sterling on its front page on Thursday after obtaining a video of the England international, a transfer target for Manchester City, in which he appears to take the legal high as he inhales from a balloon before laughing.
Liverpool had held talks with Sterling in April after The Sun had published pictures of the player apparently inhaling laughing gas on a previous occasion.
The club has declined to comment on this latest incident.
Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is legal but Stephen Ream, director of drugs charity Re-Solv, told The Sun: “Once again, we are disappointed to see these images.
“Although not the most dangerous substance being misused, there are risks associated with the practice, primarily accidents whilst under the influence.
“Mr Sterling, whether he likes it or not, is a role model for young people and his actions are important. To see images of him participating in this activity again is very poor.
“Inhaling any gas for intoxication carries risks.”
Raheem Sterling, who played for England in their victory away to Slovenia on Sunday, is a target for Manchester City.
The controversy comes amid uncertainty over Sterling’s future.
Sources told ESPN FC on Wednesday that City had submitted a final bid worth up to £40 million for Sterling, whose agent has said he will not sign a contract extension at Liverpool.
However, Sky Sports has reported that Liverpool will reject the bid as they are apparently seeking closer to £50 million for a player whose current deal has two years to run.
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has told Sterling he should stay at Anfield as he would be “crazy to go at this stage in his development.”
“It’s obvious Raheem has been confused by what’s happened over the last few months, but I still believe the right thing for his development is to stay, and I hope for his sake he can somehow see that,” he said in the Daily Mirror.
“I still think there is time to back away from this. These things seem to get a momentum and you think you have no options, but if he were to take a step back and find a way of staying at Liverpool, I think the fans would embrace that.
“I’m not having a go at him, he’s a kid and when things like this happen it can scramble your brain, but I’m saying that he can still stay at Liverpool — even now — and it’s the best place for him.”
He added: “One of things you have to think about as a young player is which managers have a track record of developing emerging talent. Brendan Rodgers has proved he has, but have City shown any capacity to do that?
“Sometimes it’s difficult to see things clearly in these situations, but if Raheem looks back on this whole episode when he’s older, I reckon he’ll think the same.
“You have to do what’s best for your career over the long term, and I think everyone in football believes it would be best for him if he stayed a bit longer.”