Rodgers calls on Sterling agent to resolve contract talks quickly
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers wants Raheem Sterling's representatives to resolve his contract situation as quickly as possible, as the haggling over his salary continues.
Rodgers says the teenager and his advisers would be "foolish" not to reach a swift agreement on committing his future to Anfield. He has also warned the 17 -year-old that he cannot expect to join the ranks of Liverpool's biggest earners until he has achieved much more in the game.
Senior officials at Merseyside club believe private negotiations have become too public heading towards Sterling's 18th birthday on December 8 – the point at which he can sign a longer-term professional deal – but are adamant there's no hitch in talks and routine negotiations are progressing.
Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, held further talks with Sterling's advisers this week. No deal was struck, but the club insists agreement will be reached shortly.
It has been suggested Sterling's representatives want as much as £50,000 a week for the teenager, a rise in the region of £47,000 on his current Academy deal.
Sterling took to his Twitter account to dismiss those claims, but swiftly deleted his comments as his representatives continued to pursue the best contract for him.
It is also suggested Sterling is yet to be made a formal offer, despite his breakthrough for club and country since the start of the season. Liverpool insist numerous figures have been discussed already – they are offering in the region of £20,000 a week to the youngster – and believe it is case of both sides thrashing out a mutually beneficial contract rather than an impasse.
Rodgers has made it clear since he made Sterling a first-team regular that he is concerned about young players earning too much, too soon.
Liverpool want to strike the balance between keeping their player on the correct, incentivised path, but also keeping away predators who would be prepared to throw millions to lure the teenager away from Anfield.
It is a sign of the times when Rodgers feels compelled to issue a reminder that actually playing for the club and earning rewards later is currently more important than seeking an instant multi-million pound pay rise.
Rodgers has seen other young prodigies' careers decline after receiving their first lucrative deal, and believes he has a duty to protect Sterling (right) . This is not a case, as some fear, of Liverpool demonstrating a lack of finances by offering less money than the top-four clubs.
While Sterling's impromptu Twitter outburst suggested he is in agreement with his manager, his advisors wish to ensure he maximises his potential at an early age.
"I think it is important for the club that we sign our young talents. But I think it is even more important for Raheem," Rodgers said. "This is a club that is going to give young players an opportunity. He has played more games than he could have dreamed of this season, both in the Premier League and the Europa League. Liverpool Football Club has given him the chance to become a full international player.
"So I would think if I am Raheem Sterling and his agents, I would look to tie it up very quickly. This contract won't be the biggest contract of his life. It is when he actually achieves something. What he has shown just now is fantastic potential. His next contract and the one after that will be the big ones. But this is Liverpool Football Club. If you are 17 years of age and you are playing regularly, you would be very foolish not to commit yourself very quickly. I am confident it will be sorted out very soon."
Rodgers, meanwhile, has noted the contrasting response to Gareth Bale's booking for diving against Liverpool on Wednesday to the response to Luis Suarez earlier in the season.
Rival managers pilloried Suarez on a weekly basis, but it was Bale's brilliant display rather than his diving that grabbed all the attention in the victory.
"I've not seen the headlines, but if he was Uruguayan it would be different," Rodgers said. "There is no doubt about that. It's not surprising. We've seen it highlighted and it seems to have quietened off a little bit now because there have been a lot of other incidents." (© Daily Telegraph, London)