As Liverpool play out the last two months of the season, it's likely that Raheem Sterling will continue as one of the first names on the team sheet. The 20-year-old forward has been a mainstay for Brendan Rodgers this season, operating throughout the forward areas and filling it at wingback when needed, and throughout he's been one of Liverpool's most consistently impressive players.
That's been true for most of the last year and a half, really, and it's no wonder the club would be interested in extending his current deal, which runs out in 2017. Negotiations have been underway for most of the current season, and while it looked as though an agreement was on its way in January, no resolution was reached, and now it looks as though both parties will be waiting until the summer to revisit the issue.
For many that's cause for concern, but Rodgers cut a cool figure in his pre-Swansea presser on Saturday afternoon, noting that there's plenty of time for a deal to get done:
"I'm quite relaxed about Raheem's situation. He's not going anywhere in a hurry. He's got another couple of years to go on his contract. I think anyone who has Raheem's best interests at heart will see that Liverpool Football Club at this stage is the best option for him in his career.
"He's just turned 20 in December. He's made more than 100 appearances (118) which is a remarkable amount at a club this size, for a young player. And he's made it clear himself that this is the best place for a young player to develop. That's what makes me quite relaxed. And I'm sure the club and his representatives will find the solution."
Rodgers' comments regarding Sterling always have a hint of suggestion to them, as the third-year boss is always keen to point out the environment and opportunity available to the versatile forward whenever the topic is addressed. It's something worth repeating, however, as Liverpool under Rodgers have been among the better destinations for younger players to receive chances in the senior squad.
That trend looks to continue over the next few years, with an impressive assembly of talent under the age of 25 in the first-team setup. Raheem Sterling is among the most promising of that group, and finding a way to keep him at the club until 2017 and beyond is essential to their short- and long-term success.