Brendan Rodgers has hit out at the advisors of Raheem Sterling and suggested the winger is being manipulated into leaving Liverpool.
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The northern Irishman insisted in his post-match comments following a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal that if it were up to Sterling he would likely stay at Anfield.
He insinuated that Sterling’s agent, Aidy Ward, is the man to blame for the player’s recent outburst in a BBC interview where he admitted he was flattered by the supposed interest of Arsenal.
And Rodgers also revealed he had spoken privately with the 20-year-old since his TV interview and told him his interests would be best served at his current club.
“I’ve had a good chat with him. I have given him my opinion on it. This is a young kid who has been advised to do something else. A 20-year-old boy does not pick up the phone to ask to speak to the BBC,” said Rodgers according to the Daily Mail.
“You don’t do that; him in particular. He just wants to play his football. But of course if he’s asked to do that by other parties then that’s what he’ll do.
“In the modern game it is obviously something that frustrates us all but it is the market and where football is at. In fairness to Raheem, I brought him in from the youth team and the reserves and I know that a big part of this is actually nothing to do with him.
“In my time in coaching there are a lot of very, very good agents. The only thing I would say on Raheem’s situation is that anyone can see that for his football development and financially, Liverpool Football Club is the best place for him. There is absolutely no question of that.”
However, with Liverpool’s defeat against Arsenal making their top-four ambitions more pipe-dream than a reality, Rodgers openly admitted that the club’s task to keep their star players – and extend Sterling’s deal – would be that much harder.
“As long as the player can see the ambition of the club. We all know the reality of where the game is at in this country. There are bigger spenders than ourselves and more experienced squads – the model at Liverpool is different.
“Of course players will want to look at possibilities when that time comes. But when you talk specifically about Raheem – because he’s got huge potential but there’s still a bit to go – then I think Liverpool is the best place for him.
“It is the job of his advisors to look at the possibilities might be beyond that. But he has two and a half years left and won’t be going anywhere in the summer – that’s for sure. And we’ll sit down again with the club and his representatives to hopefully find the solution in the summer.”
Surprisingly, despite a not so stellar game, Rodgers heavily praised the England international for his performance against Arsenal.
“There was no change in him. I thought he was excellent today, our best player. He was aggressive in his running, pressed the ball well, he won the penalty. He was very direct and strong.”