Brendan Rodgers has taken a hands-on role in Raheem Sterling’s contract negotiations to ensure the deal reaches a successful conclusion.
Sterling is 18 today, and it was envisaged when contract talks began earlier this year that his birthday celebrations would coincide with Liverpool announcing a new long-term contract for the precocious winger.
That will not be the case. Talks between Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre and Sterling’s advisers continue but Rodgers, weary of the speculation surrounding the discussions, is confident things will soon be wrapped up.
In order to reach that point, Rodgers has spoken on several occasions to Sterling. He has reminded him about the chance he has been afforded at Anfield, the role Liverpool have played in his development and the rewards that will be there for him if he makes the right moves.
‘There are good conversations and there is no worry or concern — it will be resolved,’ said Rodgers. ‘I’m comfortable with it. The club is working on it very well; Ian Ayre’s doing a good job. I’ve spoken to the agent; there’s no problem.
‘There has been a lot made of it but there are still 18 months left (on Sterling’s current deal). He’s a young kid and we just want to make sure that everything’s right for him to be nurtured. I have spoken to Raheem. I’ve gone through what I’d call the core elements of his development.’
From when Rodgers first spoke publicly about Sterling signing a new contract on September 15, he has maintained this would not be the most lucrative deal of his career and re-emphasised the England international’s potential will not be spoiled by finance.
That theme has been constant in the discussions Rodgers and Sterling have had and Liverpool’s manager has gone to great lengths to advise him to look at the bigger picture, rather than think about the money that other clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City would be prepared to offer.
‘There is a plan in place for him,’ said Rodgers. ‘There’s a commitment there and he’s a real good kid. It’s quite low profile. We just want to make sure it’s right for him and he feels it. I believe he does. It’ll get done sooner or later.
‘He will have all the tools here, at one of the top football clubs in the world, to progress. I don’t want the club or the kid being affected by over-the-odds demands. All the figures that get bandied about for kids these days can destroy them.’
There is no doubt that Sterling’s development has been one of the main talking points of Liverpool’s campaign but, after making 22 appearances and scoring one goal, there will come a point when Rodgers needs to preserve him by taking him out of the team.
‘I’m in the business of trying to help nurture these kids,’ Rodgers said. ‘Money distorts the reality, I’ve always said that. So I’ve always tried to ensure that I give my point of view on it. It’s about being sensible rather than going over the top.
‘We as a staff are on our toes to make him better, then hopefully from that, we’ll get excellence,’ he added. ‘It’s then his responsibility to deliver.’ – Daily Mail