Sunday 18 February 2018

Liverpool owners FSG prepared to delay entering contract talks with England full-back Glen Johnson

Liverpool are stalling over a new contract for Glen Johnston
Liverpool are stalling over a new contract for Glen Johnston

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool are prepared to delay contract talks with defender Glen Johnson, despite the England full-back entering the final two years of his Anfield contract.

 Johnson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, may have to wait until the end of the season before there is any approach from the Liverpool board to negotiate about a renewal.

Established players tend to consider themselves in line for new terms once they reach the final 24 months of a contract, but Liverpool’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, are less inclined to do so with players who will be over 30 when their deal ends.

Even club captain Steven Gerrard had to wait until he had just a year left before agreement was reached, and Johnson will find himself in similar territory. Johnson will be 31 when his contract expires.

Another complication regards salary, with Johnson among the club’s top earners.

During the course of their reign, FSG have challenged the logic of players expecting to be paid more when they go beyond their 30th birthday, at a point when many are considered to be past their peak.

Whether Johnson would be prepared to accept a deal which offered extra years but no salary increase – or even reduced terms – could become a factor.

For Liverpool’s part, they see no rush in heading to the negotiation table, but it is certainly a bit of a risk given how highly Johnson is regarded.

He is a Champions League calibre player at a club who are not in Europe, and rivals are sure to be alerted as he approaches the final 18 months of his deal.

“It’s something the club will take up at the right time. I’m not sure where it’s at,” said manager Brendan Rodgers.

“Glen is the type of player you don’t realise what you’re missing until he is not in the team. He was outstanding against Manchester United so it will be great when we get him back.

"He’s got the cast off his foot now and he is working hard to be back in the next few weeks.”

Rodgers, meanwhile, says Luis Suárez is fully aware he owes Liverpool and the supporters his full commitment when he makes his much-anticipated return from suspension against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup third-round tie on Wednesday.

“I’m sure he does,” said Rodgers. “You’ll find out that once he gets that strip on he’ll work his socks off.

“He’s received nothing but affection and love from the supporters. They deserve no less than 100 per cent and, knowing Luis, that’s what he’ll give them.”

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