Raheem Sterling’s contract saga with Liverpool has taken another new twist after the club cancelled Friday’s scheduled meeting with the player and his agent.
Sterling’s representative Aidy Ward had requested a sit down with chief executive Ian Ayre and manager Brendan Rodgers to discuss the 20-year-old’s future, having turned down a £100,000-a-week deal in January.
However, in light of comments reported in the London Evening Standard, in which Ward apparently claims Sterling “would not sign a new contract for £900,000-a-week”, Press Association Sport understands the meeting has now been scrapped.
Ward has subsequently disputed the words attributed to him and is reportedly threatening to take legal action but that has carried no weight with Reds officials, who it is understood do not see the point of discussing an issue which appears to have already been decided in the minds of the player and his representative.
Sterling’s agent has been widely criticised for his handling of negotiations after turning down the club’s offer of a substantial increase on the player’s current £35,000-a-week deal in January.
The player conducted an interview, unauthorised by the club, in which he insisted he was not “a money-grabber” before reports emerged earlier this week – again played down by Ward – that Liverpool would be told at Friday’s meeting that Sterling would not sign a new contract.
“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation. I don’t care,” the London Evening Standard quoted Ward as saying. “He is definitely not signing. He’s not signing forB£700,000, £800,000, £900,000 a week. He is not signing.
“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.”
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Sterling was booed by some fans when he picked up his young player of the year award later that day but former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness believes they are entitled to do so.
“If he’s privately making it known he wants to leave Liverpool then that word soon gets out and supporters are entitled to turn on him,” he told Sky Sports.
“Just maybe someone should whisper in his ear and tell him he is not going anywhere.”
Former Reds defender Jamie Carragher was infuriated by the way Sterling – and his representatives – have acted. “For a 20-year-old kid to be taking on Liverpool Football Club over a contract, to the pit of my stomach that just winds me up, it angers me,” he told Sky Sports.
“You keep your mouth shut – get on with playing football.”
However, the Evening Standard reports Ward hit back against those comments. “Carragher is a k***. Everybody knows it. Any of the criticism from current pundits or ex-Liverpool players – none of them things matter to me. It is not relevant,” he is quoted as saying.
Ward is known to be unhappy how details of Liverpool’s contract offer were made public, adding in the newspaper: “How did this all occur? There is no smoke without fire.”
He also suggested he would not be short of takers for Sterling’s signature. “I am not worried. Worried is making a decision not knowing what is going to happen. Every Premier League club will make a bid for him,” he reportedly said.
Manchester United were reported to have made a cheeky enquiry about the youngster but senior sources at Old Trafford have said he is not on their list of current targets.