The subject of a new contract for Raheem Sterling has been floating around for a while now and with his growing importance to Liverpool's cause, many fans would be keen to see the teenager renew terms. Sterling is still on 19 but is one of Liverpool's key attacking players. His form has dipped over the past week as Brendan Rodgers has played the England international for every single minute since the 120 minutes and penalty shoot-out victory over Middlesbrough. That amounts to three 90 minute stints and the bright derby performance was followed by a poor outing against Basle and a stuttering one against West Brom. Raheem Sterling is still developing and needs to be handled carefully at times.
However, Sterling is Liverpool's most productive player in the Premier League with three goals and two assists. He even registered an assist yesterday in the home victory over the Baggies. Sterling is young and has made strides since signing a new contract in December 2012. He is a key player for England and Liverpool who will turn 20 in December. Should he be paid less than Adam Lallana or Mario Balotelli? Should he be paid so much at 19 or 20? Should the quality of the player dictate the terms offered irrespective of age when that very same quality dictates his minutes and status in the first-team squad.
When Sterling's contract was being discussed and reported, there were accusations that Sterling's representatives were not entirely comfortable to deal with and excessive demands were made. Arsenal were heavily linked with Sterling before he signed a new contract and recent rumours of Real Madrid making a move have been brushed off by Brendan Rodgers. Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be the latest club ready to pick up the kid who was famously told "steady". Is this another ploy by Sterling's team to push for a better deal? Are the increasing number of stories about young Raheem's contractual situation fed by his agent? Jamie Carragher seems to thinks so.
Message to Raheem Sterling agent, shut up feeding stories about his contract.— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) October 3, 2014
Steady. Liverpool's former number 23 addressed the issue at length in his column with the UK Daily Mail and it is worth reading. He's already expressed his displeasure with the performances and lack of "sacrifice" from Mario Balotelli in the Italian's early performances. He admittedly revealed that he wasn't a big supporter of the player during his stint at Manchester City, a time when Carragher was playing for Liverpool in the heart of the defence. Returning to the issue of Raheem Sterling's contractual "situation", the crux to the Monday Night Football man's frustration is the rationale behind the rumours he believes are being promoted by Sterling's agent.
What particularly frustrates is that it isn't the first time we've seen stories about Sterling - who has been linked with Real Madrid - and his contract. He is one of Europe's finest young players, a star in the making, but he is old enough to have his own voice and put a stop to things like this happening.
Whoever believes it is a good idea to put pressure on Liverpool has failed to understand the emotion of fans. There is never a good time for these stories to appear but when your team is losing, the last thing you want to read about is potential problems for your star player. It also creates a perception that a player is more interested in money than football, which in turn creates an image. Part of an agent's duty, after all, is to portray his client in the best light whenever he can.
They have also not grasped just what Liverpool have done for Sterling since he signed as a 15-year-old in 2010. He and his family have been looked after; Rodgers, meanwhile, has protected and nurtured him, providing him with the platform to showcase his talents.
Maybe Jamie Carragher knows something many Liverpool fans don't as he was playing for Liverpool during rumours surrounding Raheem Sterling's contract negotiations. Liverpool have developed Sterling and given him opportunities to thrive, chances that he may not have been given elsewhere. His mother has also been cited as a positive influence in the Kop kid's career. However, it's not like he's some squad rotation runt. He's one of Liverpool's best players in any position. However, that there haven't been rumours surrounding the future of Jordan Henderson or Philippe Coutinho. There weren't any concerning the future of Daniel Sturridge before he signed a new contract and Carragher cited that in his column. Liverpool get round to rewarding the best performing players and will provide competitive wages to reflect the contributions various players have made to the club.
In May, the Daily Mirror reported that Raheem Sterling would be given a £100,000 a week contract after the World Cup and yesterday, the same paper reported that he would be rewarded with...a £100,000 a week contract. If you believe the paper that houses Jamie Carragher's column, the young technician is "in no rush" to smile emptily for the cameras and pose with a pen poised to scribble on a blank sheet. At this stage, this may be just "noise" but it certainly isn't welcome. Raheem sterling is young and will most likely sign a new deal. He's trusted by a manager who knows how to utilise his talents and is playing regularly for a big club. Tellingly, he was guided when it was possible that he could have veered from a trajectory of progress but at this stage, conjecture and inference is all many have to guide them when assessing Raheem Sterling's advisors.