Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling is reportedly demanding a £50,000 per week contract to remain at Anfield. The 17-year-old academy graduate (he turns 18 next month) has rejected the club's offer of a deal worth around £20,000 per week.
The forward has another 18 months to run on his present deal but given his sudden emergence and the fact he has consistently been picked in England senior squads of late (he has been called up to Roy Hodgson's team to face Sweden in a midweek friendly), the Reds are believed to want to extend his contract and ward off possible interest from other clubs. The Daily Mail reports Sterling is currently on £2,000 per week (plus appearances) at Merseyside.
Sterling has earned considerable praise from both club captain Steven Gerrard and coach Brendan Rodgers, and his goal in the 1-0 league win over Reading (Rodgers' first home win in the Premier League) made him the club's second youngest scorer ever, behind legend Michael Owen.
"I think Raheem has been a great surprise to everyone. Not that he's doing so well at this level - as we always knew he was going to be good enough to play for the first team - but I don't think anyone expected him to break through so early," Gerrard earlier told the Liverpool Echo.
Liverpool are understandably keen to tie the youngster to a new contract. And while their offer of a £20,000 per week deal may be fair, considering Sterling does, after all, not have that much experience... the fact that a fringe player like Stewart Downing earns in the region of £60,000 must surely weigh on the minds of Sterling and his representatives. The 28-year-old Downing has made only one league start this term, compared with Sterling's nine.
Liverpool's Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotpsur were linked with a move for the teenager in the summer. Sterling was seen by new Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas as a perfect addition to the new squad he was building but although a £7m bid was rumoured, nothing came of the interest.