Rodgers confident Raheem Sterling will sign new deal at Liverpool

Mario Balotelli a doubt for League Cup visit to Championship leaders Bournemouth

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: Raheem is a real catalyst and talisman for this team.  Photo:  Martin Rickett/PA

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: Raheem is a real catalyst and talisman for this team. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

 

Brendan Rodgers believes Raheem Sterling will not be tempted to follow Luis Suarez out of Liverpool despite conceding the club have “come off the path” since the summer.

Liverpool, who are at Bournemouth tonight for a League Cup quarter-final, are currently in talks with the player’s representatives over a contract extension for Sterling.

The 20-year-old’s existing deal does not expire until 2017 but the club want to reward the forward’s development into a key figure in Rodgers’ squad, with improved terms.

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been linked with the England international but despite Liverpool’s regression this season and Suarez’s departure for Barcelona in the summer, Rodgers is confident Sterling’s next contract will be at Anfield.

Current problems

“We were on a path for a couple of years and of course we’ve had to come off that path since the summer. We’ve lost some players and are having to regroup again.

Second Captains

“Raheem is a real catalyst and talisman for this team. He’s been a great example of the progress that a lot of the players have made here, going from a youth team player into one of the top young players in European football.

“The club will work very hard [on the new contract]. Raheem’s happy here and loves being a Liverpool player. I’m sure between them and his representatives we can get a deal done that sees him continue to develop what is an exciting career.”

Liverpool’s Champions League defeat by Basel in October and elimination from the competition against the Swiss club last week were both followed by reports of problems in the contract negotiations with Sterling.

Rodgers insists the claims did not originate from Sterling, who has shown no sign of being distracted by the talks.

“I think Raheem has been brilliant,” Rodgers said. “I don’t think there’s anything affecting him in any way. He’s the type of boy who leaves his representatives to work with the club in order to hopefully organise the deal. He has no real influence on that.

“All I’ve ever asked him to do is concentrate on his football, on preparing himself well, and the performances will come. And I think he’s shown that consistently over this last period.

“I’ll never be surprised that teams are linked with Raheem because he’s such a big talent. He’s just turned 20 years of age. He’s a wonderful young player and a very mature young man. I’m quite relaxed about the situation.”

Rodgers also claimed to be relaxed about his own position as manager, which is under fierce scrutiny ahead of the testing visit to the Championship leaders, which comes five years and a day after he was sacked by Reading. “The situation is totally different but that was probably the making of me as a manager,” he said.

Six matches

Mario BalotelliGlen Johnson

That 3-0 defeat prompted Rodgers to concede that Liverpool must “recapture the team ethos” of last season but he denies there is unrest inside the dressing room.

“Our dressing room is very strong,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have a captain who is a strong leader in the dressing room and that has been very important during my time here. Unrest is totally untrue.

“Of course we are unhappy at not winning games, these are competitive players who almost won the league last year and they won’t be happy at losing because they are competitive people.

“Our spirit is very strong and once we get that break, we will show that.” Guardian Service

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