Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers slams Raheem Sterling's agent then rules out top-four finish after Arsenal defeat

Liverpool manager tells Sterling what he thinks as awful week ends with disastrous defeat at Arsenal

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The Independent Football

Brendan Rodgers has conceded there will be no Champions League football at Anfield next season, but told Raheem Sterling he is going nowhere after turning up the heat on the player’s agent.

Sterling’s refusal to sign a contract worth £100,000 a week and his unsanctioned BBC interview was as much on the Liverpool manager’s mind as the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal following the game.

The club had not granted Sterling permission to give his interview, which was understood to be the work of his agent, Aidy Ward.

Rodgers hinted as much as he said: “Much of all this has nothing to do with him. The kid gives me everything every time he trains and plays. A 20-year-old kid doesn’t pick up the phone and  ask to speak to the BBC. He just wants to play football.”

Sterling has 27 months left on his £35,000-a-week contract, and Rodgers said: “The only thing I will say is for his football development, and financially, Liverpool is the best place for him.

“I’ve had a good chat with him and given my opinion. I think he enjoys being here and knows he is privileged to play in front of the Liverpool supporters.

“He won’t be going anywhere in the summer and we will sit down and try and find a solution.”

Raheem Sterling in action at the Emirates

Rodgers admitted that Sterling and the rest of the Liverpool squad would not be playing in the Champions League next season after yesterday’s setback.

“We very much won’t be in the top four,” he said. “There’s too much ground to make up. We have been dealt two big blows in our last two games. Now we must focus on the FA Cup.” Consecutive defeats to Manchester United and now Arsenal, their big rivals for the final two Champions League places, leaves Liverpool eight points behind United with seven games to play.

Rodgers said: “It was a disappointing scoreline. Right from kick-off we were too negative. Normally we go forward. We defended very poorly for all of the goals. In the second half we worked well but it’s easy when you’re 3-0 behind.”

Sterling played reasonably well yesterday, leading the line for much of the game and winning a penalty late on that produced a goal which proved only a consolation.