Liverpool Cancel Showdown Talks Over Sterling’s Future

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Raheem Sterling’s future at Liverpool was plunged into fresh doubt on Thursday (May 20) after the Premier League club reportedly cancelled a meeting to discuss a new contract for the unsettled forward.

Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward had requested a meeting with Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre and Reds manager Brendan Rodgers this week to discuss the 20-year-old’s future following reports he was keen to leave Anfield at the end of the season.

After turning down a £100,000-a-week (US$156,000-a-week, S$208,390-a-week) contract offer in January, Sterling is said to have decided to seek a transfer to a club playing in the Champions League next term, sparking a reported approach from Manchester United this week, while Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid are also watching the situation with interest.

Liverpool had hoped to use their talks with Sterling to persuade the England international, whose current £35,000-a-week contract runs until 2017, to commit his long-term future to the club. But quotes from Sterling’s agent in an interview with the London Evening Standard on Thursday have, according to the BBC and the Daily Mail, convinced Liverpool there is no point in meeting with the player, even though his representative has subsequently disputed the words attributed to him.

“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation,” the Standard quoted Ward as saying. “He is definitely not signing. He’s not signing for £700,000, £800,000, £900,000 a week.

“My job is to make sure I do the best with them (my clients). If people say I am bad at my job, or they are badly advised it does not matter.”

While Sterling refuses to put pen to paper on a new Liverpool deal, the club did manage to secure the signatures of two other promising youngsters on Thursday. Jordon Ibe, the highly-rated 19-year-old winger who broke into the first team after a successful loan spell at Derby earlier this season, has agreed a reported five-year contract that the Reds call “a long-term” arrangement.

“Liverpool are a great club and I like the philosophy here,” Ibe told Liverpool’s website. “I’ve just been brought into the first team and I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve played in. Hopefully I can just keep doing well at the club.”

Meanwhile, Jon Flanagan has extended his stay at Anfield for another 12 months as the England international battles back from a second knee operation. Flanagan will be sidelined for a further six months, having missed the entire season, but Rodgers is optimistic the 22-year-old defender will come good again.

“He’s a very important player and has been a huge miss for us this season,” Rodgers said. “He has got a long road ahead of him over the next four to six months but I’m sure he’ll get his rewards at the end of that.”

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Abideen Owolabi

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