"Liverpool will not be forced to sell Raheem Sterling" - Brendan Rodgers

Raheem Sterling has been told Liverpool will not be coerced into a transfer after Brendan Rodgers said he could not envisage the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, selling the England international under any circumstances this summer.

The 20-year-old caused dismay at Anfield on Wednesday by telling the BBC he was flattered by reported interest from Arsenal, had rejected the offer of a £100,000-a-week contract from Liverpool and was being unfairly portrayed as a money-grabber. Sterling’s interview caught Liverpool completely unawares, although the message it contained came as little surprise with the club at loggerheads over a new contract with the player’s representative, Aidy Ward, since October.

Rodgers described Sterling’s PR gamble as “a mistake” but otherwise gave no indication of a rift between himself and the player during a press conference to preview Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal on Saturday. However, the Liverpool manager was resolute that an attempt by Sterling or Ward to force a move to Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea this summer would be destined to fail.

Sterling remains on a £35,000-a-week contract at Anfield until 2017 and, having benefited from FSG’s hardline stance on Luis Suárez in 2013, Rodgers believes Liverpool’s owners will ensure the forward “is not going anywhere this summer”. Asked whether there were any circumstances that could lead to Sterling being sold at the end of the season, such as a staggering bid being received or the contract impasse continuing, the manager replied: “I do not see it. No. Ultimately, I cannot speak for the owners but I have a good idea of what they would do. I know them well enough from my time here and for me it would not happen.”

Whether Liverpool’s resolve would weaken in receipt of a £50m offer remains to be seen. Rodgers had not spoken to the principal owner, John W Henry, or the chairman, Tom Werner, about Sterling’s interview but the hierarchy have been in close contact throughout the contract saga. As demonstrated with Arsenal’s £40m plus £1 bid for Suárez two years ago, FSG will not countenance selling a key Liverpool player to a domestic rival and they appear unmoved by the latest manoeuvring from Sterling, mainly given the length of his existing deal.
“I am quite relaxed about it,” added Rodgers. “He said his ambition is to win trophies and be successful and that’s perfectly aligned with what we want to do. This is Liverpool, one of the great clubs in world football, and it’s an honour for him to be playing here. He understands that, and that he has two and a half years left on his contract. He’s not going anywhere in the summer and we will be concentrating on making him the best player we can.

“Liverpool is one of the superpowers of football and the owners have made it clear that money doesn’t come into it. If the club doesn’t want to sell they won’t. If any player left, Raheem or whoever, it would be on the terms of the club. But that’s a long, long way off. It’s about continuing to nurture and develop a young player who has made giant strides.”
Credit: Andy Hunter/Guardian Sport