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Liverpool Focus - Sterling set to hand Rodgers contract extension boost

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By Mushtaq Quraishi

Friday 21 December 2012

Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling is expected to sign a new contract with the Anfield outfit imminently, Brendan Rodgers revealed during a routine pre-match press conference on Thursday.

Raheem Sterling

The recently turned 18-year-old winger has burst onto the Premier League scene this season and has made 16 consecutive top-flight appearances for the Reds so far this term. As a result of Rodgers’ faith in the youngster and in return, Sterling’s exciting performances, the former Queens Park Rangers youth player also impressed England boss Roy Hodgson enough to be handed a first cap for the senior England national team. Providing there are no last minute hitches, tying Sterling down to a new, long-term deal could represent the Reds’ best bit of business this winter – even though the January transfer window has yet to open.

Of all the young players who have been given a chance to shine at Anfield in recent years – including the likes of Jon Flanagan, Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson, Jonjo Shelvey, Sterling and others – the Jamaican-born wide-man has caught the attention most. Sterling’s performances have been of a high standard – he appears to be physically strong, fairly quick, very creative and has an eye for a shot. He still has much to learn, but there is a sense that Sterling will fulfil his potential and continue to improve. Only time will tell if that turns out to be the case.

There was some level of concern among supporters of the Merseyside club that the young star would not agree a new deal. Media reports in recent months indicated that Sterling’s camp were holding out for a much higher salary – closer to what the likes of Stewart Downing and Joe Cole earn – given that the teenager is keeping highly-paid, established internationals out of the team. Such an argument would make sense, but Rodgers was wary of elevating Sterling to such a high status at such a young age.

Rodgers said: “I always congratulate players when they sign a new contract and then I warn them, they have got that contract for what they’ve done in the past.” He added: “I tell them they need to decide after this contract whether there is going to be another contract at one of the biggest clubs in the world or whether it will be at a different level. They can’t rely on this contract and I make sure they know that. Raheem knows he hasn’t gone into the ranks of the senior players with this contract...don’t worry about that.”

Liverpool have been heavily linked with Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and Blackpool’s Thomas Ince, with some newspapers suggesting that fees have already been agreed for the two players. If true, then their arrivals could provide some tough competition for Sterling. If the talented teenager manages to hold off the challenge for a place from any new players, then Liverpool may be persuaded into handing him a more lucrative contract in the not too distant future.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Liverpool v Fulham

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