Brendan Rodgers said yesterday that he still believes Liverpool can persuade Raheem Sterling to sign a new contract at the club as interest in the England international grows, with Bayern Munich now among those keen on recruiting the 20-year-old.
The Liverpool manager faces Bournemouth in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup tonight on a run of two wins in his last 10 games and in desperate need of a victory over the Championship leaders. The issue of Sterling’s future becomes ever more pressing as Liverpool’s slump this season threatens to undermine their position with the player, who is now their leading talent.
Sterling, who signed his existing five-year deal at the club in December 2012, has turned down Liverpool’s latest offer of £70,000 a week and is keeping his options open. He was given his first-team opportunity at 15 by Roy Hodgson on a pre-season tour in 2010, and flourished under Rodgers last season, but he is keeping his options open over his long-term future. Munich would be the latest in a number of clubs to signal their potential interest.
Asked whether there could be implications for Sterling’s future if Liverpool did not strengthen their squad in the summer, Rodgers said he hoped that would not be the case. “We’re a club that is trying to build something here. We were on a path for a couple of years and unfortunately we’ve had to come off that path since the summer. We lost some players and we’re having to regroup again really.
“He [Raheem] is a real catalyst and a talisman for this team. I think he has been a great example of the progress that a lot of the players have made here, going from an 18-year-old player to being one of the top young players in English football.
“The club, I’m sure, will work very hard [to keep Sterling]. Raheem is happy here and he loves being a Liverpool player.
“So I’m sure that between them and his representatives we can get a deal done which will see him continue to develop what is an exciting career,” added Rodgers.
Sterling is expected to be in the Liverpool team for the game at Dean Court, with only Glen Johnson – who was injured against Manchester United in the defeat on Sunday – missing from the senior squad.
Rodgers said Sterling had been “absolutely outstanding” and that his unwillingness to commit his future had not affected his performances.
“He’s the type of boy who leaves his representatives to work with the club in order to hopefully organise the deal for him,” Rodgers said.
“He has no real influence in that. All I ever ask him to do is concentrate on football, concentrate on getting himself ready for training and the performances will come.
“He’s shown that consistently over this last period that he’s been a real, real threat and he’s a top young player. I’ll never be surprised that teams are linked with Raheem. He’s such a big talent and he’s just turned 20 years of age.
“He’s a wonderful young player and he’s a very mature young man. I’m quite relaxed about it.”
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