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Chelsea winger Noni Madueke has called on fans to stand by his teammate Raheem Sterling, denouncing the criticism directed at the 29-year-old as “unjust and severe”.

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Sterling faced jeers from fans throughout the FA Cup quarter-final triumph over Leicester City earlier this month, and online voices have advocated for Chelsea to part ways with the highly-paid winger this summer amidst rumored interest from Saudi Arabia.

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However, Madueke has thrown his support behind his senior colleague, asserting that fans may not fully appreciate Sterling’s dedication to Chelsea.

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“It’s crucial to support him,” Madueke expressed to the Daily Mail. “While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I have mine too. Raheem is one of my teammates, and the criticism he’s facing is unwarranted and harsh. It’s our responsibility to voice our views and attempt to shift the narrative.

“Raheem is not just an outstanding footballer but also an exemplary person. It’s disheartening to witness some of the criticism. Although he can handle it, we recognize his significance to our team. He’s like a big brother figure to many of us. There’s a lot about him that people don’t see. What I do know is that he’s exceptional and incredibly committed to our cause.”

Amidst broader criticism of Chelsea’s performance this season, as they once again find themselves languishing in mid-table, Madueke maintains that the squad is striving to transform adversity into motivation.

“I believe negativity can serve as motivation,” Madueke remarked. “It toughens you up and becomes part of the game. You won’t go through your career without facing setbacks and negative moments when people doubt your abilities. The sooner you learn to cope with it, the better.

“We’re in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and if we win, we’ll secure a spot in Europe. There’s still plenty of football left in the league. Currently, we’re winning more often than not. We need to maintain our momentum and see where it takes us.”

Reflecting on personal growth amidst the challenges faced, Madueke emphasized the collective drive within the Chelsea squad.

“This season marks the first time in my career where I’ve experienced losses and draws,” Madueke observed. “It’s part of the learning curve, not just for me, but for all of us, especially those not accustomed to the Premier League and English football.

“What I can say is that every time I step onto the training ground, I witness immense talent and a shared determination to improve and succeed. At Chelsea, these are the expectations we uphold.

“We’re aware of the circumstances, but things don’t always go according to plan. We must take responsibility for ourselves and those around us, striving to improve every day. I’m confident that we’ll return to winning ways eventually.

“I can only speak for myself, but I’m not overly concerned. We live in an era dominated by social media, where pleasing everyone is near impossible. I don’t pay much attention to it. Instead, I focus on myself, my teammates, and maximizing every opportunity I get.”

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