Liverpool must decide whether to cash in on Raheem Sterling this summer, after the player reportedly told the club of his desire to leave.
The 20-year-old is regarded as one of the most promising young players in Europe, and played a key role as the Reds went close to winning a first league title since 1990 last season. At the time there was no indication whatsoever that the forward would soon be casting glances elsewhere, but the failure to build on their momentum of last term appears to have turned his head.
Sterling still has two years remaining on his contract on Merseyside, and is thought to have recently discarded the chance to extend his stay and boost his weekly salary to £100,000. When news of this rejection broke out the former Queens Park Rangers trainee, against the knowledge of his current employers, gave an interview to BBC Sport to deny accusations of greed.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly gone on record to state that even if the England international doesn’t sign a new deal in the coming weeks, he will not be sold when the transfer window reopens. However, widespread reports on Tuesday would suggest the player will demand a move ahead of next season after supposedly informing the Anfield club of his desire to leave.
Sterling is expected to confirm this to Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre when they meet on Friday, just 48 hours before a disappointing campaign draws to a close with the trip to Stoke City. With a top-four finish now impossible to achieve, Liverpool know they can only guarantee fifth place with a win whilst a defeat the Britannia Stadium could leave them as low as seventh.
If they are determined to include Sterling in their plans to better this performance next season, they face the risk of his contract edging towards its final 12 months next summer and his value plummeting as a result. But if they decide to cut their losses and let their number 31 leave, they could demand a handsome fee from suitors such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Is it time for Liverpool to accept defeat in their desire to keep Raheem Sterling and listen to offers for his signature, or is he just too important to consider selling?