Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling rejected suggestions he was “money-grabbing” in an interview aired on Wednesday, after his talks over a new contract hit an impasse.
The 20-year-old England star’s future has become the subject of intense speculation in the British media as Liverpool attempt to extend his current contract beyond its 2017 expiry date.
Reports claim that Sterling has turned down a new deal worth around £100,000 ($148,320, 137,710 euros) per week, but he said claims he was holding Liverpool to ransom were wide of the mark.
“I don’t want to be perceived as a money-grabbing 20-year-old,” said Sterling, who is reported to earn around £35,000 per week, in a video interview published on the BBC Sport website.
“I just want to be seen as the kid that loves to playfootball and wants to do the best for the team.”
He added: “I would never want the fans to think bad of me, to think I just want as much money for myself. I want them to understand it’s been a bit much for me this season, with everyone talking about it every minute.”
Jamaica-born Sterling joined Liverpool from Queens Park Rangers’ youth academy in 2010 and broke into the first team under manager Brendan Rodgers during the 2012-13 season.
He was one of the key players in the team that narrowly missed out on last season’s Premier League title and has won 14 England caps, scoring his first international goal in last Friday’s 4-0 win over Lithuania.
Sterling, who has scored 10 goals for Liverpool this season, admitted that had he been offered the same terms a year ago, he would probably have agreed to them.
“If, at that point in time, I was offered a contract, I most definitely would have signed straight away, probably for far less money than being said now,” he said. “I just think the timing was a bit off.”
The live-wire forward, who can play wide or as a number 10, has been linked with a string of leading clubs in recent weeks but said he would not be discussing his future further until the end of the campaign.
“At the end of the season, I just want to sit down with the club and my representatives,” he said. “I will definitely give guarantees when the season has finished.”
Rodgers has described the contract that Sterling has rejected as “an incredible deal for a young player”, but says he is relaxed about the player’s future.
“I am sure it will be resolved and the concentration for Raheem is now on his football and it is clear the terms of when those talks will begin again,” Rodgers said recently. – Agence France-Presse