Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling are among those in talks over new Liverpool deals…
Brendan Rodgers has done a wonderful job at Liverpool over the last three years. Since replacing Reds legend Kenny Dalglish in 2012 he’s transformed them from a team lost in mid-table wilderness back into a side with realistic top four, and even title ambitions.
There have been blips along the way of course, most notably his struggles at the start of the current campaign, but thanks to the club’s unbeaten start to 2015, the misery of late 2014 has been quickly forgotten. If he is able to secure a second successive season of Champions League football and win the FA Cup – giving captain Steven Gerrard the perfect send-off ahead of his move to LA Galaxy – he’ll be an Anfield hero once again.
However, what should not be lost on any Liverpool fans is that three-years of hard work could be easily undone. In Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling they have three key players locked in unsavoury contract negotiations, much to Rodgers’ frustration.
Having already had to adapt – introducing a new-look 4-3-3 formation and signing a host of new players last summer – to the loss of Luis Suarez, Rodgers would be loathed to lose any more of his key players, particularly his future captain, star defender, and the best youngster on the planet.
The current deals for Henderson and Skrtel expire in 2016, while Sterling’s contract runs until 2017. Add in the fact that fringe players Brad Jones, Kolo Toure, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan could follow Gerrard out of the Anfield exit door later this year, and your approaching crisis-status.
Liverpool have, quite respectably, moved to cut down on their wage bill in recent seasons, but surely there needs to be some leeway for the club’s biggest stars. With the substantial wages of Suarez, Gerrard, Johnson and former goalkeeper Pepe Reina all likely to be off their books within the next six months, there is plenty of breathing room.
Reports in the Daily Mirror claim that Henderson’s representatives are after around £100,000-per-week, while Liverpool have offered £80k. The player has spoken openly about his desire to stay, but the Reds stubbornness could cost them.
It’s easy to see Henderson’s thinking – he’s been a key player this season, playing 41 times already, and is line to take over the captaincy at the end of the season. Gerrard was already earning £100k ten years ago, and the 24-year-old feels he’s entitled to a similar deal.
Manchester City and Arsenal have both expressed an interest in the player, and chances are that he could get even more than that away from Anfield. His next contract will tie him down for the most important years of his career, and you can’t blame him for his frustration.
It’s been a similar story for Sterling who, as the Daily Mail confirm, is being closely monitored by Real Madrid. For Rodgers, who himself was forced to reject speculation linking him with Manchester City earlier this week, a failure to secure his top players would be nothing short of John W. Henry literally ripping up his plans and asking him to start over.
The Liverpool owners needs to get a grip! Whatever concerns they have over paying players too much to young or FFP regulations, this is modern day football, and they have to stump up the cash if they want to sign and keep the best players on the continent.
The sooner they realise that, the better…