PFA ready to mediate in row between Raheem Sterling and Liverpool
As Manchester City prepare a third bid to prise Raheem Sterling away from Liverpool, the Professional Footballers Association has said it is ready to mediate on the player's increasingly bitter stand-off with the Anfield club.
City have had two offers for the England striker rebuffed by Liverpool, but made contact with Anfield officials on Friday night and it is understood a new bid of £40 million plus £5 million in add-ons will be made over the weekend. This falls below Liverpool's £50 million valuation and is almost certain to be rejected.
Liverpool expect Sterling to abide by the terms of his contract and join the club’s pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia this weekend, but they are open to the idea of the PFA intervening on the matter to ensure the player's mood of rebellion is curbed.
It has not reached the stage where the PFA has been summoned yet, but Anfield officials are acutely aware of the possibility of Sterling failing to show up when their flight departs on Sunday afternoon given a recent catalogue of indiscretions.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, is monitoring the situation and will try to defuse tensions if both parties consider it in their interest.
A similar PFA involvement proved useful in 2013, at the height of Luis Suarez’s dispute with Liverpool as he tried to push through a move to Arsenal. On that occasion, the PFA informed Suarez that – despite claims to the contrary – his contract clause did not enable him to leave Anfield for a fee over £40 million.
Suarez would resolve his dispute, sign a new deal with less ambiguous terms and enjoy his best season for the club prior to leaving for Barcelona for £75 million last summer. For all the animosity and dirty tricks played on Sterling’s behalf in the last few months, Liverpool would still welcome an about-turn to keep him on Merseyside, although that seems unlikely given City's relentless pursuit.
Sterling’s 48 hour absence from Liverpool training ended when he rejoined to the club’s pre-season preparations on Friday.
Sterling called in sick on Wednesday and Thursday, just days after informing manager Brendan Rodgers he did not want to travel with the squad on their summer tour.
Liverpool are ready to take disciplinary action against the 20-year-old if he does not turn up for Sunday's flight.
Meanwhile Jordan Henderson has spoken of his pride at being named Liverpool’s permanent captain.
“It is a great honour and a huge privilege to be named as the captain of this football club,” said Henderson. “When Steven (Gerrard) wasn't in the team last season, I tried to do the best I could when I stepped in and took the armband. Now I'll be looking to carry that on and continue to grow as a captain.”"I'll look to give my best all of the time, put the team firmly first and try to give them - or help them with - whatever they need from me.”
Rodgers says Henderson deserved the armband after showing the leadership qualities he needs.
Rodgers said: “Jordan is someone who leads through example - through his actions, attitude and application. He shows total commitment to the game and is a role model professional.
“He is also greatly respectful of the great traditions associated with being Liverpool captain and the responsibilities that come with it. He has been blessed to learn first-hand from one of the greatest the club has ever had, in Steven Gerrard.
"Jordan has grown as a person and as a player since arriving at Liverpool and is ready to take up this challenge. He will be his own person, with his own style of leadership and his own ideas and methods.”
Defender Martin Skrtel has finally agreed a new deal at Anfield.
Skrtel, 30, would have been a free agent next summer if terms had not been agreed on a new contract, but talks were prolonged as the Slovakia international held out for a suitable deal.
Now he has signed his new contract he will compete with the likes of Dejan Lovren, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho for a place at the heart of Rodgers' defence.
Former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister has also been confirmed as the new first-team coach at Anfield.