Liverpool’s battle to hang on to Raheem Sterling appears to have taken another twist with Manchester United reportedly entering the fray.
Reports have claimed the Reds’ arch-rivals made a cheeky enquiry for the 20-year-old, whose future is up in the air after talks over a new contract were halted in January.
Any such approach would be flatly rejected by the Merseysiders, who do not want to sell the youngster never mind to their fierce Premier League rivals.
Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward is due to meet Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre on Friday to discuss the future of the player, who still has two years left to run on his existing £35,000-a-week deal.
Ward has had to deny initial reports he will tell Ayre the England international will not sign a new deal, saying: “The story has been blown somewhat out of proportion.....(we) have a meeting scheduled with Liverpool later this week and we will take proceedings from there.”
Sterling was booed by some fans when he picked up his young player of the year award on Tuesday night, but former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness believes they are entitled to do so.
“It looks like he wants to go and play somewhere else, which is really sad for Liverpool supporters,” he told Sky Sports.
“If he’s privately making it known he wants to leave Liverpool then that word soon gets out and supporters are entitled to turn on him.
“They support him through thick and thin. It looks like he’s turning his back on them which if he is, is very sad for the football club.
“Just maybe someone should whisper in his ear and tell him he is not going anywhere.
“He is a young man with lots of potential. He is far from being the finished article; he should stay at Liverpool, learn his trade and just get on with it.
“But he has been advised by people who have maybe got the wrong priority.
“Right now it is all about him learning to play the game, understanding the game and improving and he is at the best club he could possibly be at.”
Former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby believes the time might be right to sell.
“If Raheem feels Liverpool is no longer the best place to be then I guess you have to bite the bullet and move him on,” said the Dane.
“It is not like the sale of Luis Suarez. You knew the impact that sale would have on the team – I am not convinced if you sell Sterling it will have the same negative impact.
“In my mind it might be the right time to sell because the club is in transition and maybe we could just do with that money.
“I think we need to move away from buying potential and buy off the top-shelf, ready-made players, who can go in and improve the team.”
Liverpool’s Champions League-winning midfielder Dietmar Hamann also agreed that if Sterling did not want to stay he should be sold.
“I think Liverpool needs players who are committed now and if he feels his future is elsewhere then good luck to him,” said the former Germany international.
“If he gets offered more money, Champions League football or a better opportunity to win trophies then that is his right to do that.
“All you can do is put a price on him and if someone pays it you sell it and you get other players in.”