HE might make more money elsewhere but Brendan Rodgers is confident that the opportunities Raheem Sterling will be given at Liverpool will make him stay.
This 3-0 victory over Wigan was the 11th straight league game the 17-year-old had started, although the fact that his contract runs out in June next year has led to a frenzy of speculation about his future.
The size of his salary is thought to be the greatest sticking point. Last week Sterling tweeted that it was "rubbish" he was holding out for £50,000 a week, more than double what Liverpool are prepared to offer.
However, that tweet was swiftly deleted due to the sensitivity of the issue. Yesterday, he tweeted again, apologising for a collision that led to Wigan's Ben Watson breaking his leg.
When the Liverpool manager was asked if he feared an approach for Sterling from other clubs, especially in London, where he grew up, Rodgers said: "They would be wasting his time.
"Raheem is in a real good place. He has been given an opportunity here this season and he is thriving on it. He will tie himself to a new contract because he wants to be here. He can be a great at this football club.
"The message is very simple. We are trying to drive the club forward over the next couple of years and there will be a little bit of pain along the way. However, there are not many teams in the Premier League who are starting with three teenagers. And why would you want to leave one of the biggest clubs in world football? It's a no-brainer."
Having committed themselves to paying Joe Cole, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing – three players with a very limited future at Anfield – a combined £200,000 a week, there is a pressing need to reduce the wage bill at Liverpool.
However, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner yesterday gave reassurances that not only would his Fenway Sports Group not countenance the sale of Luis Suarez, they were prepared for substantial expansion in the January transfer window.
"Obviously, we have made some mistakes in the past," he said in relation to Liverpool's wage bill. "However, our intention now is to deliver a priority product and strengthen the squad, but actions will speak louder than words. I don't want to say more than that. We know that January is a challenging time and I don't want to say that we have got X or Y lined up but, hopefully, the fans will be very pleased with what we do accomplish."
January two years ago, FSG approved the purchase of Suarez from Ajax, the only one of the big signings made under Kenny Dalglish who still has a future on Merseyside. When asked if he would even countenance the striker's departure, Werner replied: "Absolutely not."
He added: "He is a beautiful player to watch and, as a Liverpool fan, I am hoping to watch him for many years to come. We made a long contract with him in the summer and we are going to see a lot of his play at Liverpool."
Suarez will be free to continue to spearhead Liverpool's push for the top four despite his ugly clash with the Wigan midfielder David Jones.
That will come as a relief to Rodgers, as Suarez has kept his side in the running almost single-handedly at times this season with two more goals on Saturday, and another from Luis Enrique, sealing the three points.
Veteran defender Jamie Carragher, underlined how important the forward is to Liverpool when he argued a top-four finish is in their sights. "He is definitely right up there," Carragher said.
"I can only talk about the players I've played with: (Robbie) Fowler, (Michael) Owen, (Fernando) Torres, and I think he comes pretty close to that list. It's not a great Liverpool side at the moment. The other players I've played with have played in sides that have won trophies and been near the top of the league." (© Independent News Service)