Well, this has escalated quickly.
On Wednesday Liverpool’s star winger Raheem Sterling gave an interview (which Liverpool say he didn’t have permission for) with BBC Sport claiming that he had turned down a new deal at Liverpool, was not a “money-grabbing 20-year-old,” he wanted to win trophies and was flattered by interest from Arsenal.
[ RELATED: Sterling speaks out ]
Predictably, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was asked about Sterling’s comments and had the following to say to the media as his side prepare to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
“Liverpool are one of the superpowers of football and if the owners don’t want to sell, they don’t have to,” Rodgers said. “Concentration should be on his football. If his ambition is to win trophies that’s aligned with what we do here. Arsenal is a fantastic club but this is Liverpool and it’s an honor to him to play here for these great supporters and he understands that.”
Rodgers then added that Sterling had no permission from the club to talk to the BBC, before claiming that he will not be leaving Anfield this summer despite Sterling saying that he turned down a $150,000 a week contract during their latest discussions.
“There was no permission (for the interview) from us,” Rodgers said. “He will learn we all make mistakes in life, especially when you are young. I think the kid has tried to put off all talk about contract and money. For now hopefully focus will be on football… Raheem has two and a half years left on his deal and he’s not going anywhere in the summer. He’s quite relaxed, as I am, and he just wants to focus on the rest of the season. The player he is today is because of the environment we’ve created here. He’s not going anywhere in the summer and we’ll focus on trying to make him the best player we can.”
So, is that the end of this saga for now? I doubt it.
Sterling’s decision to turn down Liverpool’s latest contract offer and his comments about wanting to win trophies, something the Anfield club hasn’t done since lifting the League Cup in 2012, suggest he is assessing his options. Liverpool will more than likely not be in the UEFA Champions League next season and if Sterling really wants to challenge for titles, his future may lie away from Anfield.
If, as Rodgers claims, Liverpool’s owner are not concerned about money, then surely they can keep hold of Sterling for the next two years and let his contract run out. But is that really going to happen? No. He either signs a new deal in the next 12 months, or the Reds will have to offload him to recoup a reasonable amount of cash for a player they have spent years developing. Sterling and his agent hold a huge amount of power in these negotiations, and Rodgers’ slightly defiant response reaffirms that.
Let’s see how the winger plays against Arsenal this Saturday (he missed England’s game vs. Italy in midweek due to a toe injury) as the Gunners are one of many clubs rumored to be in for the 20-year-old. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City have also been keeping tabs on the speedy winger who is Liverpool’s top scorer and assist maker in the PL this season. Surely the Reds can’t afford to let Sterling leave. Should they break the bank to offer him the new contract he wants?