Michael Owen has criticised Raheem Sterling's agent for allowing the Liverpool forward to conduct an interview this week in the midst of frenzied speculation over his future.
In an interview with the BBC -- not sanctioned by the club -- the 20-year-old denied he was a ''money-grabber'' for turning down a reported £100,000-a-week contract and said no amount of money would persuade him to sign a new deal before the summer.
With negotiations now on hold until the end of the season, at the request of the player and his agent Aidy Ward, for Sterling to fan the flames came as something of a surprise to the Reds.
And former Liverpool striker Owen believes Sterling was on "a hiding to nothing,'' being made to talk about the situation.
"We saw further evidence that Sterling isn't a natural in front of the camera,'' Owen said on social network Sportlobster. "That's not a huge issue in itself but it does beg an obvious question: Why on earth did his advisor consent to exposing his client to a situation that he doesn't feel comfortable in while discussing arguably the hottest current topic in English football?
"Unless he was going to announce that he was signing a new contract imminently, he was on a hiding to nothing.
"Every Liverpool fan was hanging on his every word and if there were a few willing to sympathise with him a week ago, there won't be many who do now.''
Owen's comments echoed those of former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who labelled the decision to sanction the interview "woefully misjudged'' as he reflected on "another PR disaster for Team Sterling.''
"For a 20-year-old and his agent to be taking on Liverpool FC in the public domain is a disgrace,'' the 37-year-old said in his Daily Mail column. "I have no issue about players maximising their earning potential but the agenda that is being driven from Sterling's camp is beyond a joke."