Brendan Rodgers urges Liverpool's Raheem Sterling to sign long-term deal

Brendan Rodgers 2

Brendan Rodgers has told Raheem Sterling he would be foolish not to commit to a new long-term contract with Liverpool when he turns 18 next month.

The Liverpool winger becomes eligible to sign the first senior contract of his career on 8 December but despite, or arguably because of, his progress this season the club have yet to make a formal offer to his representatives. Further negotiations between the Liverpool managing director, Ian Ayre, and Sterling's representatives this week failed to end in an agreement on his future, although the club are adamant a deal will be done to keep the England international at Anfield and disappoint the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, who are monitoring the situation.

Sterling has seized the opportunity he has been given by Rodgers this season, starting all but one of Liverpool's 14 Premier League games and earning his first England cap in the friendly defeat by Sweden. The Liverpool manager admits the teenager has been "one of our leading players this season" – a fact that is unlikely to have been lost on Sterling's representatives – and believes he should appreciate what is a rare position with a major club.

"I think it is important for the club that we sign our young talents but I think it is even more important for Raheem," Rodgers said. "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."

Despite the current impasse, Rodgers remains confident Sterling will commit to a new deal at Anfield. But he has warned it is premature to be making excessive demands of Liverpool.

The Liverpool manager added: "This contract won't be the biggest contract of his life. It is 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."

Rodgers has also claimed double standards were at work in the muted reaction to Gareth Bale's dive against Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. He believes more would have been made of the Tottenham winger's booking for simulation had the guilty party been Luis Suárez. "It seems to have quietened off a little bit now because there have been a lot of other incidents," he said. "I've not seen the headlines but I'm sure if he [Bale] was Uruguayan it would be different."

Liverpool are considering a January move for Feyenoord's £3.5m-rated defender Stefan de Vrij, although that would be dependent on Sebastián Coates going out on loan.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Guardian on Thursday 29th November 2012 22.30 Europe/London

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image: © Bernard C

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