herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre expects Sterling to stay at Anfield

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling
Liverpool's Raheem Sterling

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre does not think it will be a problem to keep Raheem Sterling at the club.

The England international is in demand after becoming a star at Anfield, with Arsenal and Manchester City among a host of top European sides said to be monitoring his contract situation.

Sterling has rejected one deal to take him beyond his current deal – which expires in 2017 – and has put off negotiations for the moment.

A number of Liverpool fans were unhappy with this decision, and made their feelings known about the player’s agent in a recent game. But Ayre is confident Liverpool can keep hold of their prized asset.

“Raheem’s agent has asked that we park all discussions regards his future until the summer,” he said. “We respect that.

“Raheem is a Liverpool player and has two years left on his contract. We expect Raheem Sterling to be here for a long time.”

On top of his ability, the 20-year-old would add to City’s homegrown quota and reduce the average age of the side, which has been criticised this season for being too old.

Sterling’s future is not the only reason he’s making headlines this week. Footage has emerged of Sterling appearing to take ‘laughing gas’ and then passing out, and Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said he will be speaking to his player about his lifestyle.

Sterling “made a mistake” in apparently being filmed inhaling the legal high nitrous oxide but the star should be treated with understanding, according to players’ union chief Bobby Barnes.

Barnes, deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association and European president of the international players’ union FIFPro, said people should not be too hard on Sterling.

Barnes said: “Nobody would condone the use of these types of substances whether legal or otherwise as footballers are seen as role models. It does send a message to young people that if it’s good enough for footballers then it’s good enough for them and that is not desirable.

“But you have to bear in mind that we ask an awful lot of young players growing up in the public eye. Many of us look back at things we have done in our teens and early 20s and wish we hadn’t done them.

“He’s made a mistake and people are human. I am sure this will be a minor blip on his path to a fantastic career.

“Players have to be aware that there is camera on every corner - they are very much in the spotlight.

“He’s a young man, growing up in public eye and he’s made a mistake. Let’s not be too hard on the boy.”

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