Sterling set to sign five-year contract with Liverpool
Liverpool expect Raheem Sterling to sign a new five-year contract by the end of the month in what will be a significant boost following Steven Gerrard's decision to leave the club at the end of the season.
As Liverpool fans came to terms with the exit of an icon, it emerged that the club's negotiations with Sterling's representatives had progressed well.
Sterling is understood to have rebuffed an initial offer but Liverpool do not now anticipate any hitches.
The 20-year-old was initially offered a pay rise taking him to £70,000 a week but his representatives were understood to be holding out for £120,000 a week. It is thought that the two parties have met somewhere in the middle and Sterling's new deal will be heavily incentivised, as was the contract signed recently by Daniel Sturridge.
Gerrard (34) confirmed on Saturday that he would be joining a club in the United States in the summer after being told by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that he was no longer an automatic selection.
Robbie Keane's LA Galaxy are thought to be the front-runners to sign the Liverpool captain.
Gerrard paid glowing tribute to Rodgers, saying he would have won many more trophies had the current manager taken over when the midfielder was in his prime.
He said: "I wish I'd met Brendan when I was 24 because I think I'd be sitting here talking about a lot of titles that we'd won together. The reality is, Brendan came into this club when I was 32 and it's a shame that relationship didn't start 10 years ago."
Gerrard admitted that it was a shock when Rodgers told him "it was time to manage my games for me and for the team". The midfielder added: "It was a very difficult conversation."
Rodgers insisted that he had been desperate for Gerrard to stay and that the club had done everything to persuade the 34‑year-old, who had been in "turmoil", to sign a new contract.
The manager said: "He's been a brilliant captain during my time here so naturally I wanted him to stay. But I think his role is slightly different because he still sees himself wanting to go on and play for a couple more years. Naturally at this level that was going to be tapered a little bit over the next couple of years. He wasn't ready to move into coaching or anything like that yet."
Rodgers said that Gerrard had not been offered a coaching role to remain at Liverpool - but that he envisaged the midfielder returning one day.
Asked whether Gerrard could become a manager, Rodgers said: "I don't see any reason why he couldn't be. He's been a wonderful leader. You see players coming in as coaches on the backs of managers, with the idea of learning the ropes and maybe one day moving into the job. I think there would be a great opportunity for Steven to do that one day."
Rodgers rejected any suggestion that Liverpool had not done enough to persuade Gerrard to stay.
"I can only talk from the conversations I've had with Steven and he's never felt unhappy. I have not been party to whatever has gone on with the club and his agents, but we wanted to keep him at the club."