Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has vowed to keep Raheem Sterling’s feet on the ground, amid talk that the youngster is to be offered a new contract just two months into his maiden season with the first-team squad.
Rodgers is keen for the 17-year-old winger to earn his deal rather than be simply granted it because of his potential. The Reds manager wants to see some consistency and determination in his young starlet’s play before an offer is put on the table.
“There has been dialogue between me and Raheem about a contract – and that has been it,” Rodgers told the Daily Mirror. “There is no doubt it is something that we will look at in the next few months though.
“But, I repeat, I have seen it so much with young players. The point I have made to Raheem – and he has been brilliant, to be fair to him – is that he will earn it.
“What I want to see is if he can become consistent with it. If you can be consistent with the chance you get, you will get rewarded for it. That is important.
“He still needs to learn but he is a bright boy and he has adapted very well. But the support mechanism around him has to make sure he is centric to everything. The people around that have to understand that. I can try and educate him but I can’t control everything.
“One area that I specialise in is young players. I have worked with top young players and top talent at various clubs.
“The thing I’ve seen in Raheem, is that he is a great learner. Over the course of pre-season, I wasn’t harsh with him. But he had to learn. I look at him now, a couple of months later, and he plays with responsibility. He’s learning, and that’s important.”
Rodgers is especially wary of offering youngsters too much too young in terms of money though, and he wants to make sure that Sterling’s focus remains on reaching his bright potential.
“The biggest thing that distorts the reality of people and footballers is money – I have seen it so much with young players,” Rodgers continued.
“You see these young boys play one or two games, they get handed these super-duper contracts and then they reach 22 and 23 years of age, you hear people ask [about them], ‘What has happened to so-and-so?’
“If we are going to protect young players and help them, you have to protect them and not give them huge contracts. You see these young players who are multi-millionaires. No matter what you say, it takes the edge off them.”