Raheem Sterling transfer saga: Why Liverpool can cannot afford to sell the youngster
If Raheem Sterling hoped to expose any weaknesses in Liverpool's stance on him with his BBC TV interview on Wednesday, he now knows very differently.
Far from caving into their forward's demands, Brendan Rodgers and the Anfield board appear even more determined to prevent him leaving this summer: first Rodgers emphasised that the club had no plans to sell him at the end of the season, and then it emerged that only a truly astronomical transfer fee - likely to be around £50million - would be enough to change that stance.
And no wonder. Quite apart from the PR damage losing a player of Sterling's value would inflict, even the most cursory of glances at Liverpool's Premier League statistics this season is enough to underline why the club simply cannot afford to do without him.
The most basic of measures, perhaps, but Sterling's increased status at Liverpool is underlined by his goal return this season.
He has seven to his name already - the joint-highest of any Liverpool player in the Premier League (albeit allowing for Daniel Sturridge's injury problems) and just two shy of his tally from last year. He also tops the chart in terms of shots at goal this season, suggesting that he is enjoying the responsibility of being asked to play a more central role by Rodgers.
Most goals scored 2014-15
Most shots 2014-15
Sterling might be thinking more like a striker at Liverpool, but he could hardly be accused of neglecting his duties as a creator for Rodgers' side. In three key areas - assists, chances created and dribbling - he has been the most productive player at the club this season.
The figures for chance creation are particularly striking: he has produced 15 more opportunities for teammates than his nearest rival, Jordan Henderson.
Most assists 2014-15
Most chances created 2014-15
Player Chances created
Most dribbles attempted 2014-15
With & without Sterling
One crumb of comfort for Liverpool is that, despite his hugely impressive numbers this season, Sterling's absence from the Liverpool line-up does not seem to trigger a collapse in form. In matches since Aug 2013, Liverpool's win percentage is actually slightly above that recorded when he does play.