Raheem Sterling contract talks put on hold

Premier League

Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling and his agent have stalled contract talks until the end of the season as speculation about his future continues to grow.

The club have been in negotiations over a new deal to replace the 20-year-old’s existing contract — which expires in the summer of 2017 — for several months now.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has previously said Liverpool have offered him an “incredible” offer but after further talks this week failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion the saga has been postponed until the current campaign is over.

Asked whether there was likely to be a solution found soon Rodgers said: “Not between now and the end of the season.

“It has been made clear by Raheem’s representative and the boy himself he just wants to concentrate on his football and see what can be resolved in the summer.”

With contract negotiations dragging on Sterling has found himself linked with some of Europe’s top clubs, with Manchester City the latest to be linked after reports on Friday they were considering a £50million bid.

Rodgers dismissed that and all other links with.

“It is all speculation. It is something we can’t worry ourselves on,” he added.

“The boy is happy here and I repeat if you have the interest of the kid and his football development at this stage of his career this is the best place to be.”

While the future of one of Liverpool’s burgeoning stars remains up in the air the destiny of one of their all-time greats has already been decided with Steven Gerrard heading to Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer.

The Reds captain returned to the squad after a seven-match absence in Monday’s win over Swansea but it was as a substitute.

There has been much debate about Liverpool’s effectiveness with Gerrard in the side but Rodgers insists the midfielder still has a key role to play.

“I think it has been really unfair on the boy. This is a guy who has been — and still is – a wonderful player,” said Rodgers.

“When he was out injured we had people trying to sensationalise a story as to whether he would get in the team or not but Steven was unfit.

“People were trying to write him off when he was not even back fit.

“Maybe some are trying to make a negative story on him, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“Even when he doesn’t start he came off the bench the other night and put in a great performance which added a calmness and stability to the team and that is what he will continue to do.

“He is like any other player, of course he’d like to play, but his support for guys like Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, that are in the team has been fantastic and his support to me as a captain has been incredible.

“He works his socks off and Steven Gerrard, playing or not playing, has unbelievable application and professionalism to his football life and is a wonderful ambassador for this club and a great role model for the players.”

Liverpool’s midfield has been bolstered by the return to training of Lucas Leiva, who limped off with a groin problem 16 minutes into the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on February 7.

The Brazil international will be assessed on Saturday to see whether he has a chance of making the squad.

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