Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants Raheem Sterling to concentrate on his football after telling the forward he will not be sold in the summer.
Talks over a new £100,000-a-week contract for the 20-year-old have stalled and the forward’s public protestations this week about not being a “money grabber” and having to assess his ambitions were seen by many as the beginnings of a campaign to secure a move away.
Rodgers said that would not be the case – for the foreseeable future at least as Sterling still has two years remaining on his £35,000-a-week deal – and would prefer the youngster to put all his efforts into helping the side secure a top-four spot.
“The concentration is to focus on his football, help him continue with his development in a place where he has made great strides – that is the only concentration over these remaining games,” said the Reds boss.
“That was the intention of the player, his representative and the club to put (talks) on hold. “Obviously Raheem has come out and made his feelings clear on that and hopefully now the focus will be on the football.
“He is not going anywhere in the summer so we will very much focus on trying to make him the best player we can.”
When it was suggested to Rodgers that money talks he pointed to recent history when Arsenal‘s cheeky £40million plus £1 bid for Luis Suarez – in the mistaken belief it would trigger a release clause – was swiftly rebuffed by owner John W Henry.
“Liverpool are one of the superpowers of football and the owners have made it clear – and we’ve seen it before – that money does not come into it,” he added.
“The club is not going to sell and if it doesn’t want to sell it won’t sell, it is simple as that.
“Money has never been the objective for the club. Whatever player – Raheem or anyone – leaves here it will always be on the terms of the club.”
In his interview this week, which was not sanctioned by the club, Sterling spoke of his desire to play in his favoured position as an attacker rather than being asked to perform a role he has been tasked with a couple of times in recent weeks as a wide midfielder in a 3-4-2-1 formation.
Rodgers, however, stressed the importance of the player being able to operate in a variety of roles.
“He has played all over the field for me but he understands and respects that the opportunity he has had to play all over the field has been great for him in his career,” said the manager.