Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling’s latest apparent laughing gas incident is unlikely to have any effect on his club’s stance in relation to the player’s ongoing transfer saga.
Manchester City on Wednesday failed in their second attempt to sign the England international after upping their initial offer by £10million to £40m, comprising £35m up front plus £5m of add-ons.
A day later footage emerged on The S*n’s website allegedly showing the 20-year-old taking the legal high nitrous oxide while on holiday in Ibiza.
It is the second time the youngster has been caught apparently inhaling laughing gas, and while Liverpool have refused to comment on the incident it is understood the club’s view on the player’s position has not changed.
They value him in excess of £50m and, with a 20 per cent sell-on fee due to previous club QPR, they will hold out for the best price they can.
City – and Arsenal, who are also interested but have to yet to make that formal – take their public image seriously and the latest footage of Sterling is more likely to have affected their opinion of player than it has Liverpool’s, who have worked with Sterling since he arrived at the club’s academy as a 15-year-old.
However, that has not helped in negotiations over a new contract after Sterling, who has two years remaining on his current contract, rejected a new deal worth £100,000-a-week in January.
Since then relations between the Reds and his representative, Aidy Ward, have deteriorated after the agent claimed the forward would not sign a new deal for even “£900,000-a-week”, after which Liverpool cancelled the scheduled restart of talks.
In the intervening period Sterling has given an interview, unauthorized by the club, in which he stressed he was not a “money-grabbing 20-year-old” and was pictured inhaling laughing gas for the first time back in April.
On that occasion manager Brendan Rodgers said: “When you are a professional sportsperson at the top level of the game I don’t think it is something you should be doing.
“Young players make mistakes. As long as they learn from them, that is what is important.”
There is some positive news for the club, however, as Press Association Sport understands defender Martin Skrtel is set to sign a new contract after having his own issues over the terms of the deal.
Earlier this month the Slovakian rejected as “unacceptable” the new agreement, one of the club’s new model performance-related deals, after describing it as “the kind offered to players who are much older or who have health problems”.
However, those issues appear to have been sorted and the 30-year-old centre-back, currently on holiday, will now sign an extension to the remaining 12 months he currently has.
Liverpool are also closing in on their fourth signing of the summer with Charlton teenager Joe Gomez scheduled to undergo a medical on Friday.
Press Association Sport understands the Reds have triggered a £3.5m release clause in the England Under-19 international’s contract which has paved the way for the move to be completed, and he will meet with club officials on Merseyside on Friday.
Liverpool are currently in discussions with the SkyBet Championship club over minor details regarding a sell-on fee should the player subsequently leave Anfield in the future, but those talks will not affect the deal going through.
Gomez’s arrival – following that of Manchester City midfielder James Milner, Burnley striker Danny Ings and Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan – is likely to signal the departure of centre-back Sebastian Coates to Sunderland on a £4m permanent deal after the 24-year-old spent a successful season on loan at the Stadium of Light.
Liverpool also remain interested in signing Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne but, having had an opening bid of £10m rejected, they are prepared to be patient in their pursuit.
The apparent imminent arrival to St Mary’s of Sporting Lisbon right-back Cedric Soares would appear to ease the way for the 24-year-old England international to move to Anfield but further negotiation is required, with the Saints reportedly holding out for £15m.
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