BRENDAN RODGERS believes Raheem Sterling would be ‘very foolish’ not to sign a new deal with Liverpool as he dismissed concerns about contract talks dragging on.
The Reds boss, who is considering resting the talented winger for tomorrow’s clash with Southampton at Anfield, is confident that negotiations with his representatives will soon reach a successful conclusion.
When Sterling celebrates his 18th birthday next Saturday he will be able to pen a long-term deal and Liverpool hope to get it wrapped up shortly after.
Sterling is currently 12 months into his first professional contract which expires in the summer of 2014.
Rodgers says the teenager will be suitably rewarded for the remarkable progress he has made since being handed his full debut back in August. However, the manager has reiterated that he’s keen to ensure the England international doesn’t get too much too soon.
“I think it is important for the club that we sign our young talents, but I think it is even more important for Raheem,” said Rodgers.
“This is a club that is going to give young players an opportunity. He has played more games than he could have dreamed of this season, both in the Premier League and the Europa League.
“Liverpool Football Club has given him the chance to become a full international player so I would think if I am Raheem Sterling and his agents I would look to tie it up very quickly.
“This contract won’t be the biggest contract of his life. That will be when he actually achieves something.
“What he has shown just now is fantastic potential. His next contract and the one after that (will be the big ones).
“But this is Liverpool Football Club. If you are 17 years of age and you are playing regularly you would be very foolish not to commit yourself very quickly. I am confident it is something that will be sorted out very soon.”
Sterling has clocked up 21 appearances for Liverpool already this season and has made 13 successive Premier League starts.
The youngster, who arrived from QPR in February 2010, has been a revelation in Rodgers’ side.
However, against Swansea last weekend and again at Tottenham on Wednesday night there were signs that he’s feeling the strain.
The manager will assess him carefully in training today before deciding whether to take him out of the firing line against Southampton.
“There will be a point when we’ll need to give him a breather,” added Rodgers.
“He’s a very young man and is still learning the game. He still has technical elements he needs to improve upon and tactical elements.
“One of the biggest things is psychological at this level – real mental fatigue can set in.
“He’s got to this stage at the end of November and been absolutely brilliant, but at some point he will need that breather.
“He’s been one of our leading players, but for the benefit of Raheem it’ll be something I’ll need to consider.”