Sterling ends speculation by signing new long-term contract with Liverpool
14:53 GMT, 21 December 2012
England whizzkid Raheem Sterling has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool.
The 18-year-old winger has been in negotiations with the Anfield club for weeks over a new deal.
But, as revealed by Sportsmail this week, both parties have shaken hands on a deal for Sterling to stay with the Merseysiders for the foreseeable future.
Signed, sealed, delivered: Raheem Sterling agreeing his new contract with Brendan Rodgers
'It's every 18-year-old's dream. I'm just really grateful to be at such a big club like this,' Sterling said.
'There's a lot more to be done. I haven't begun yet, as the manager has said. Hopefully I can kick on after the New Year and try to do my best for the team and the football club.'
Manager Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool provide the ideal environment in which Sterling can flourish.
There was a slight hold up to the deal being finalised as negotiations had to be thrashed out over the scale of his pay rise – from a reported 2,000-a-week to nearer 40,000.
But Rodgers insisted extended discussions were also about football as well as financial decisions.
Shake on it: Sterling with Liverpool boss Rodgers
'It was just making sure that we take
care in terms of the financial – but also the football – plan for the
player,' said the Reds boss.
'This was about a young player who
has rocketed from playing in the youth teams and the reserves into
becoming a full England international.
'A lot has happened in his young life and it was just about making sure that there was that protection for him going forward – both in his financial situation and his football plan.
'I have always been confident that this was going to be the best place for him and thankfully the kid is very focused and devoted to Liverpool.'
Jamaican-born Sterling had just 18 months left to run on his existing contract and ensuring the teenage sensation penned an extension was a top priority for the club.
And after several meetings between managing director Ian Ayre and Sterling's representatives the England international can now concentrate on establishing himself as a key member of Brendan Rodgers' plans.
A number of the Premier League's elite were lining up to take advantage of the uncertainty regarding Sterling's future next month.
Both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea have watched Sterling extensively with a view to swooping for the forward in January.
Sterling, who started his career at Queens Park Rangers, has made rapid progress for Liverpool since breaking into the first team under Kenny Dalglish last season.
And his impressive breakthrough culminated in his first England cap, as he started in the defeat against Sweden last month.
However, he is still eligible to play for his native Jamaica given he has not played for the Three Lions in a competitive fixture yet.
Ayre said: 'This is another positive step forward for the football club in securing the long-term future of one of the country's brightest young talents.
One to watch: Sterling has come to the fore this season under manager Brendan Rodgers
'The negotiations were very positive and both parties acted in a very responsible way to reach an outcome that benefits both Raheem and Liverpool FC.
'Since the summer, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Jonjo Shelvey and Suso have all signed new long-term contracts and it's a clear indication of our intent to keep the players we believe are crucial to bringing success on the pitch.
'It also shows the belief the players have in the vision and leadership of Brendan Rodgers and everyone at this football club.'