Friday 23 March 2018

Liverpool dig heels in as supporters boo Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling was booed by fans at Liverpool's awards evening
Raheem Sterling was booed by fans at Liverpool's awards evening
Raheem Sterling's award for Liverpool's young player of the year attracted some booing, as well as applause, from supporters present at the ceremony

Sam Wallace

Liverpool remain adamant that they will not sell Raheem Sterling this summer despite the player's determination to leave with two years of his contract still remaining, and his refusal to sign a new deal.

The stand-off between club and the player and his representatives is not expected to be resolved when the two parties meet on Friday.

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre will outline at that meeting the club's determination not to sell Sterling.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has maintained all season that Sterling will not be sold, with the backing of owner John W Henry and the Fenway Sports Group, and the club's position has not changed.

There was a mixed reaction towards the 20-year-old when he appeared at the club's end of season players' award in Liverpool last night.

Sterling was voted the club's young player of the year at a ceremony held at the Echo Arena , with around 2,000 fans in attendance.

Raheem Sterling and Brendan Rodgers during Liverpool training
Raheem Sterling and Brendan Rodgers during Liverpool training

The announcement of his award was greeted with some booing, as well as applause. His acceptance speech - in which he briefly thanked his Anfield team-mates - was interrupted with a shout of "Stay Raheem" followed by booing.

There is strong interest in the player from Manchester City, but were Liverpool to start listening to offers for a player rated at around £30m, City would face competition from Chelsea and Arsenal, as well Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

The forthcoming relaxation of the UEFA financial fair play rules mean that there would be little question of clubs being able to afford the player, and Liverpool would benefit from a competitive bidding process for him.

Nevertheless, the club are expected to reiterate their stance that Sterling is not for sale.

Whether that could change over the course of the summer is debatable, but for now the club are planning on having Sterling on their pre-season tour of Australia and Malaysia in late July.

The club would not lose him for nothing when his contract expires in 2017 – they would be entitled to a training compensation payment for the player, who joined them aged 15.

The 20-year-old rejected a new contract from the Reds back in January and reports emerged on Monday – subsequently played down by his agent Aidy Ward – that he will tell the club this week he will not sign another deal.

Sterling, who earlier been presented to the crowd alongside fans’ favourite Philippe Coutinho, picked up Young Player of the Year award.

As he made a short acceptance speech there were shouts of “Stay Raheem” and as he finished speaking and left the stage there were audible boos from some of the 2,000 fans assembled at the rear of the city’s Echo Arena.

When his name was mentioned in a video montage moments later there were more jeers. Sterling, who has two years left on his current deal, rejected a reported £100,000-a-week offer earlier this year and negotiations were put on hold until the end of the season.

Suggestions he will now not agree to a new deal have generally been viewed as another public relations disaster by Sterling’s camp, after a pre-arranged television interview in April in which the youngster claimed he was not a “money-grabber”.

However, Ward, the 20-year-old’s long-time representative, said he and the player were always scheduled to meet Liverpool officials this week and insists they will move forward from there.

“The story has been blown somewhat out of proportion,” he said in a statement. “Raheem and his representatives have a meeting scheduled with Liverpool later this week, and we will take proceedings from there.” (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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