England manager Roy Hodgson has offered to lend Raheem Sterling a sympathetic ear to air any contract frustrations, but admits he would rather stay out of club business.
The 20-year-old, named in the national squad to face the Republic of Ireland on June 7 and Slovenia on June 14, has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as his future at Liverpool comes under increased scrutiny.
His rejection of a new £100,000-a-week deal going public was bad enough, but since then he has been booed by fans at the club's end-of-season awards.
Reported comments from his representative Aidy Ward - subsequently disputed by the agent - suggested he would not sign a new contract if the club offered him £900,000 a week and resulted in Liverpool cancelling a scheduled meeting on Friday to discuss the player's future.
Hodgson has not enjoyed the best of relationships with Liverpool or the player after Daniel Sturridge sustained a long-term injury on England duty last September and then he revealed Sterling had asked not to play in a Euro 2016 qualifier as he was feeling tired.
Who could Liverpool sign to replace Raheem Sterling?
Who could Liverpool sign to replace Raheem Sterling?
1/7 Felipe Anderson
The Lazio midfielder has enjoyed his breakthrough season in Italy this year, but that has alerted a number of clubs across Europe including Liverpool. The 22-year-old Brazilian is contracted to the Serie A club until 2020 and will therefore cost a significant amount if he were to move this summer, but it’s believed he has the potential to become one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in the world if he continues his steep development curve.
2/7 Theo Walcott
Arsenal’s pace merchant is finding it hard to break back into the first team after recovering from the ruptured cruciate ligament that sidelined him for over a year. With doubts over his fitness, his suitability to the current Arsenal side and whether he’s a better option compared to his team-mates, rumours have linked him with a dramatic Arsenal exit. Liverpool would be one of the teams in for the England winger, who can also play in attack, and given that his speed can terrify any defence he would be a suitable option to replace Sterling.
3/7 Marco Reus
Any move for Reus appears to be hinged on firing Brendan Rodgers and hiring Jürgen Klopp, and given the noises coming out of Anfield, it’s unlikely to happen this summer. But if another transfer window goes belly-up, don’t be surprised to see Klopp at the club soon after with Reus in tow. The Germany international is a wonderfully gifted player who combines pace and skill to dazzle defences. He has struggled with a persistent ankle injury in recent months, but he would add a proven quality to the Liverpool ranks.
4/7 Divock Origi
Rodgers already knows one signing he will see arrive at Anfield in the summer as Belgium striker Divock Origi will complete the permanent move he agreed last year, having spent the season on loan with Lille. Rodgers could look to revert to the tactics he deployed last season when he had Luis Suarez to pair up with Daniel Sturridge, and although Origi is nowhere near the level Suarez was at present, the Northern Irishman will hope he has unearthed a gem when he arrives in the Premier League.
5/7 Alexandre Lacazette
The French forward is being courted by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, but Liverpool could look to show a sign of intent by launching a bid for him before their rivals. Lacazette is equally adept at playing as a striker or out wide, and it would depend on how Rodgers would choose to deploy him to where he would feature. The France international has helped Lyon secure second in Ligue 1 and will finish the season as top goalscorers barring any heroics from Andre-Pierre Gignac, who trails by six goals.
6/7 Jeremy Menez
Menez’s brother and agent has fuelled talk of a move away from AC Milan by admitting he is likely to leave this summer, and even addressed rumours of a move to Liverpool as well as Monaco. However, at this point in time they are just rumours, and despite being able to play out wide he is more suited to an attacking role through the middle.
7/7 Ezequiel Lavezzi
The Argentine has fallen off the radar in recent months, but his future at Paris Saint-Germain remains far from certain and a move to the Premier League has always appeared on the cards. At home out wide on the wing, Lavezzi can also do a job up front, and would bring a physicality to the attack that is currently missing in Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Ibe.
However, he has left his door open if the player wants to discuss any issues when he joins up with the squad early next month.
"I am always available for the players, and Raheem has been with us a long time," Hodgson said.
"I would like to think if the players felt there was some need to talk to me or if it could be of some benefit to them, then they would take the opportunity.
"But as far as I am concerned, the situation between a player and his contract negotiations at his club are purely club business.
"I won't be poking my nose into that business at all.
"Being in a situation where I am often in front of a very inquisitive and knowledgeable media, I would very much like things to be done in private.
"But this is the world we live in and we have an inquisitive press and knowledgeable press, people who research, the stories do leak and get out, so it is a bit naive of people like me to sit here and say this is a terrible thing to happen and should all be done in private.
"Ideally, yes, but good luck to the clubs who can keep these negotiations totally private and can keep these headlines from appearing."
Hodgson has no doubts over Sterling's state of mind when he reports for England duty.
"I'm expecting Raheem to be just as he always is when he comes to England - very supportive of what we are trying to do, very anxious to please us, just as he is anxious to please his club coach, so I have no fears in that respect with Raheem," he added.
"We are always delighted when he meets up. He is a very low-maintenance player from our point of view, always first out for training and last in.
"He never causes us any concerns whatsoever and I have never had the slightest of doubts of his commitment to England and his desire to play for us.
"How he feels about that situation vis-a-vis his current situation, you would have to ask him.
"Unfortunately being in the media spotlight is part of being an exceptional young player who already is being regarded as one of our best.
"I hope that people don't judge him too harshly, whatever he happens to do, but I have to say as a player and a character I find him spot on - I have no criticism whatsoever."
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