There was no surprise in the main talking point at Brendan Rodgers’ pre-match press conference today: Raheem Sterling. For his part, the Liverpool manager remained calm and, when pressed on whether Sterling’s days at the club might be numbered, left no room for doubt in stating that the youngster would not be going anywhere this summer.
"I think the club has shown that isn’t the case," insisted Rodgers when asked by journalists if there was any offer large enough that it would force Liverpool to sell Sterling this summer. "Liverpool are one of the superpowers of football, and the owners have shown before that if the club don’t want to sell the club don’t have to sell and money doesn’t ever come into it."
The message was clear. Liverpool held on to Suarez when he wanted out. They held when Arsenal made an offer they thought triggered his release and they held when he asked to leave. This time, with Sterling, with the club in a better position than they were with Suarez, there is little reason to doubt they could do the same—though it should be comforting for fans to hear the manager say it.
This time, unlike with Suarez, training compensation would be awarded if the worst came to pass and Sterling refused to sign a new deal, playing out the final years of his £35k per week contract. Based on past precedent, the club could expect to be awarded market value—the amount he’d be worth if under contract—for Sterling if he left for another English club at that point.
That puts Liverpool in a far more comfortable position than they might be with an older player who appeared to be angling for a move with two years left in his contract. Rodgers, though, isn’t convinced Sterling is set on leaving the club, and with the issue not nearly as urgent for him as some in the media have tried to suggest, the manager is more worried about the immediate future.
"For us it’s about continuing to nurture a young player we think has shown great strides," said Rodgers. "I do think that for Raheem it’s purely about the football, and I say that from talking to him a lot. I think he’s just trying to put all the stuff off, the talk about contracts, and focus on the football. I think that’s all he wants to do, to concentrate on his football.
"There’s still two and a half years left on his deal, so it’s not something we’re overly concerned about."