When deciding his future, Raheem Sterling insists he will give more consideration to his chances of winning trophies rather than boosting his bank balance.
The 20-year-old is regarded as one of the best talents in European football, and played a key role as Liverpool finished second in the Premier League standings last season. He has again impressed this term, although for the post-Luis Suarez Reds it is now about finishing in the top-four rather than competing to end their 25-year wait for the title.
Sterling is out of contract at the end of next season, and the Merseyside club are determined to secure him to a new long-term agreement. But despite Brendan Rodgers claiming the forward had been offered an ‘incredible’ deal, the former Queens Park Rangers youngster has yet to commit his future and is now courting serious interest from elsewhere.
It has been suggested that the England international has turned down as much as £90,000-per-week, roughly three times his current salary, and he has decided to wait until the summer before he resumes negotiations. In the meantime, he has slammed claims he is only interested in money, and insists he is more concerned about what happens on the pitch.
“Me, the club and my reps have spoken about it and put talks on hold until the end of the season, so it’s frustrating to hear the contract situation keep going on,” Sterling told BBC Sport on Wednesday. “I don’t want to be perceived as a money-grabbing 20-year-old. I just want to be seen as a kid that loves to play football. Money is not everything in my life.
“I’ve got family, a daughter – these people mean everything to me. I think anyone around me can vouch for me that it has never been about money. It is about winning trophies throughout your career; I don’t talk about how many cars I will drive or how many houses I’ve got. It is flattering to get a huge contract (offer). I just purely want to be the best I can be.
“I want to be seen as the one who wants to do best for the team and I don’t want the fans to think bad of me, to think I just want as much money for myself. It has been a bit much for me this season with everyone talking about it every minute. I just want to help the club do the best we can do and hopefully at the end of the season be proud of what we have achieved.”
If Liverpool need to prove they are making progress on the pitch in order to keep Sterling, then a top-four finish this season would appear imperative. A 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United last weekend means they are five points off this target with eight matches remaining, although they could still bring some joy in the FA Cup where they remain in the last eight.
Earlier this week it was widely reported that Arsene Wenger is keen to lure Sterling to Arsenal, and could be prepared to include Theo Walcott in any potential summer transfer. Manchester City have also been linked with the 20-year-old in recent months, whilst it has also been suggested that Spanish giants Real Madrid are keeping tabs on his situation.