Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers: I expect Raheem Sterling to stay and remain loyal to Liverpool

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists the club will not back down in the increasingly acrimonious battle over Raheem Sterling's contract.

Owners Fenway Sports Group have proved previously in their handling of Luis Suarez, undoubtedly a better player and far more valuable to the Reds, they will not be bullied by players agitating for a move.

So the comments about Sterling "definitely not" signing a new contract even for £900,000-a-week made by agent Aidy Ward, although subsequently disputed by him, cut little ice with John W Henry across the Atlantic.

Liverpool's principal owner famously produced the withering put-down: "What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?" after Arsenal made a £40million plus £1 bid for Suarez in the mistaken belief they had triggered the Uruguayan's release clause.

On that occasion Henry stood firm and, after a brief spell training on his own, Suarez produced arguably the best football of his career, signed a new contract less than six months later and when he moved to Barcelona the following summer Liverpool extracted a top price of £75million.

The circumstances of 2013 now appear to be repeating themselves with Sterling but Liverpool's stance is exactly the same, indicated by them cancelling yesterday's meeting scheduled by Ward to discuss the future.

"Raheem has two years left and I expect him to see that two years through and continue to behave as immaculately as he has done," said Rodgers.

"The ownership have shown their strength in their time here. They took over a club a number of years ago that was in a really critical situation and they have done an incredible job to stabilise the club and point it in the right direction.

"At every opportunity when they have had to show that strength - whether it be with a player or other elements of the club - they have done that.

"In this situation they will show that power and strength again."

The rift between club and the player's representative has continued to grow since they rejected the offer of a £100,000-a-week back in January.

"I don't see Raheem unhappy. I am sure talks will take place over the course of the summer," Rodgers added ahead of tomorrow's trip to Stoke for the final match of the season.

"We want to resolve the situation but it doesn't change my approach to him. There is no problem there. My relationship (with him) hasn't been affected at all. If he is fit, which he is, he will be available for selection."

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill hopes to see big crowd at the Brandywell this afternoon in a special fundraiser for Mark Farren.

The Derry City legend is set to receive specialist treatment in Mexico as part of his ongoing battle with brain cancer.

The football family across Ireland has rallied behind Mark and that trend will continue today when O'Neill will manage a Northern Ireland Select against Martin O'Neill's Derry City Select side (3.30pm).

Michael said: "Hopefully the people of Derry support Mark. Mark is a legendary player for Derry, so I think it would be great for him to see the level of support which is out there for him."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph