Liverpool put £50m price tag on Raheem Sterling
Rodgers adamant Kop will not buckle
Published 03/04/2015 | 02:30
Liverpool are adamant that Raheem Sterling will be priced out of a summer move, with manager Brendan Rodgers insisting the club's owners will not buckle from their hard-line stance on the winger's future.
Despite Sterling's claim that he would consider options at the end of this season, he faces at least another 12 months on his existing £35,000-a-week deal as owner John W Henry adopts the same strategy that retained Luis Suarez for another campaign before his eventual £75m transfer to Barcelona.
Liverpool value Sterling at a minimum of £50m - a fee senior figures at Anfield believe well beyond what any club will pay for the 20-year-old - leaving the England international with a dilemma when contract talks resume this summer. Either reach a compromise or he will lose millions in wages before he can force his way out.
"I cannot speak for the owners, but I have a good idea of what they would do," said Rodgers. "I know them well enough from my time here and for me it (a sale) would not happen.
"I do not see it. No. Raheem has two-and-half years left on his deal and he's not going anywhere in the summer. Liverpool are one of the superpowers of football and if the owners don't want to sell they don't have to.
"The concentration should be on his football. If his ambition is to win trophies, that's aligned with what we want here."
There is a feeling at Anfield that Sterling - or more pertinently his agent Aidy Ward - are misjudging the transfer market and how much rivals in the Premier League and abroad will bid at the end of the season. A £50m fee allied to a five-year deal of £200,000-a-week would take the total cost of signing Sterling in excess of £100m.
Realistically, only Manchester City could make such a bid but even they have to direct their resources carefully since the introduction of financial fair play.
Although Arsenal are seen as a potential destination, Liverpool proved in the case of Suarez in 2013 that they are not bluffing when they stand their ground on a player. Signing Sterling would require an extraordinary investment, well beyond what Arsenal bid in their failed chase for the Uruguayan two years ago.
Liverpool reaped the benefits with Suarez as he produced his best form in his last season at Anfield. Liverpool knew that, with a World Cup on the horizon, he would not down tools.
Similarly, Sterling has next year's European Championship to consider, so there are no worries his application on the pitch will deteriorate due to the off-field dispute.
Rodgers offered support to his player following Wednesday's controversial BBC interview in which he explained why he had refused to commit his future to Anfield.
The Liverpool manager adopted a sympathetic tone, the feeling being the youngster has been guided by Ward into making 'a mistake'. "There was no permission (for the interview) from us. He will learn we all make mistakes in life, especially when you are young," said Rodgers.
"It (the interview) surprised us all. It's something he looked to do but it has not evolved how he would have wanted to, but my concentration is working with the player.
"He is a young man. He trained well and worked well and did some extra work after training (yesterday). He has had trauma in his life and he is a tough boy and you see that in how he plays, but he is still very young. He still needs guidance and help.
"There may or may not be more to follow. I can just concentrate on the present, working with the players and communicating with the player, and what will be on the contract is further down the line.
"You have seen what can happen with players and representatives, but I can only speak openly and honestly with Raheem. He has made it clear he is happy and said he does not want to be asked about his contract after every interview. Hopefully he can do his talking on the field."
Sterling suggested it was a dream to play "somewhere sunny" with comments echoing those of Suarez prior to his departure for Spain. Rodgers warned he still has some way to go before overseas clubs see him at the same level as Suarez.
"That was probably Raheem looking over the course of the next 15 years, if he plays to 35," said Rodgers. "Players now may look to later in their career and their life. But I can only focus on here, Liverpool and what is best for him as a 20-year-old.
"He's not at that level. He's a very talented young footballer hopefully on his way to that level. We think it will be best for him here and we will work hard to ensure he stays. He's a young player who has a lot of development who has developed for one reason, which is Liverpool."
Rodgers was surprised at suggestions that Sterling has been played out of position recently.
"He only needs to look at Steven Gerrard in his time here," he said. "He played in a back three, as a wing-back, right-back, left-back, central midfield, as a 10. I pick the best team and he will probably sit back, reflect and think he is playing, which not many young kids are in the first team at his age." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Aidy Ward has emerged as the key player in the Raheem Sterling saga after making a remarkable rise as a football agent.
Ward recently split from long-time colleague Rob Segal at Impact Sports Management to set up his own business, with Sterling as the most high-profile client.
Ward's stable also includes Saido Berahino, the West Bromwich Albion forward, while there are suggestions he may take Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from his old company.
But it is undoubtedly Sterling who has elevated Ward's name into the Premier League domain.