Brendan Rodgers has underlined Liverpool’s intent to keep hold of Raheem Sterling and insisted that Anfield is the best place for the England forward.
Sterling spoke publicly this week about his failure to agree a new deal, but insisted doubts over his future had nothing to do with a desire to earn more money.
He started up front in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Arsenal, a club Sterling said he was “flattered” to be linked with, but Rodgers feels the 20-year-old has everything he needs at Liverpool and hinted that some undue influence may be at work.
“I brought Raheem in from the youth team and the reserves so I know the kid well. I know a big part of this is actually nothing to do with him,” said the Liverpool manager.
“This is a kid that’s really focused on his football. He works hard every single day and he just wants to play football.
“Liverpool Football Club is the best place for him, there’s absolutely no question about that. He’s had the opportunity to play, which is key for a young player.
“You look throughout the teams and the clubs, it’s the model of Liverpool. The owners have brought in a model where they want to create the world-class talent and Raheem’s been brought in at 17 years of age.
“I deemed him worthy to come in and be a regular and over the last two and a half years he’s proven that. He’s played in a number of different positions, which has improved his game.
“He’s become more tactically aware and technically improved. At 20 years of age – and just turned 20 in December – there’s still a long way for him to go and he’s got a lot of potential, and that potential I believe he can develop over the coming years at Liverpool.
“But obviously that’ll be the job of his advisors to look at maybe what possibilities might be beyond that.
“The only thing I’ll say is that he’s got two and a half years left [on his contract], he won’t be going anywhere in the summer, that’s for sure.
“He’ll sit down with the club and his representatives and we’ll hopefully find a solution in the summer.”
Those negotiations could hit a stumbling block if Liverpool fail to reach the UEFA Champions League, with their heavy reverse at the Emirates Stadium casting severe doubt over their chances of qualifying.
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