Sterling heckled at launch of new Liverpool home kit
Raheem Sterling was heckled yesterday at the unveiling of Liverpool's new home kit as fans urged him to commit his future to the club.
Sterling was one of the Liverpool players modelling the strip in front of 500 supporters at Anfield and was on the wrong end of a pointed quip from a supporter regarding his contract impasse as it emerged that he is not the only player whose negotiations are on hold until the end of the season.
Centre-half Martin Skrtel became the latest to confirm his long-term future needs to be resolved this summer, revealing talks have been put back.
Sterling and Skrtel joined Simon Mignolet and Daniel Sturridge to present the outfit, designed by Boston-based sportswear giants New Balance.
A question-and-answer session with all the players was momentarily interrupted when Sterling was asked his view on the kit.
"Make sure we see you in it next season," was the shout from the crowd.
This provoked cheers from the rest of the spectators as Sterling was left to look sheepish.
Although the barracking was in good humour, it further demonstrated the difficulties facing the youngster following his confirmation that he had turned down an extension to his contract worth £100,000 a week.
Sterling said in a BBC interview last week that his decision to delay talks was "not about money" despite his agent requesting a weekly salary of £150,000 earlier this season.
Liverpool supporters have been unsympathetic to his claims that the delay is about his desire to compete for trophies, especially as the club have an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to and, at the time, were preparing for a crucial fixture at Arsenal in the hunt for a Champions League place, which they subsequently lost.
The 20-year-old went on to say he was looking forward to playing at Wembley in next week's semi-final as it is his "home town".
The timing of the heckle did raise chuckles given the tagline used to promote the kit launch on social media was #HoldNothingBack - a request the most vocal supporter took literally where Sterling is concerned.
Daniel Sturridge believes that Sterling will be happy only if he plays regularly and hopes he will remain at Liverpool to do just that.
"I don't know what Raheem wants to do but it is just important to be able to play regularly," said Sturridge.
"As long as he is playing regularly he will be happy . It is important, regardless of who you are, to show what you can do. It is important to play games and gain experience so whatever decision he makes I am behind him 100 per cent."
Sturridge experienced something similar himself when he left Manchester City for Chelsea aged 19 but things did not pan out how he would have liked at Stamford Bridge and he left for Liverpool in January 2012 after 63 appearances in four years.
While much of the focus remains on Sterling's future, he is not the only Liverpool player whose contract situation is a cause for concern.
Jordan Henderson has a year left on his deal, and Skrtel claimed that he is in the same category.
"There was contact a few months ago but at the moment I am just focusing on my game and focusing on the football and then we'll see after the season ends," said Skrtel.
Skrtel joined Liverpool in 2008 and, after a difficult start to this campaign, has become the most reliable defender in the second half of the season, his absence especially notable against Arsenal last weekend.
The Slovakian is currently suspended due to his dismissal against Manchester United.
Liverpool's view on contract negotiations has shifted in recent years to a more pragmatic approach on the traditional idea of rushing to extend just because a player has two years left. (© Daily Telegraph, London)