Sterling set for Anfield stay
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists securing young star Raheem Sterling on a lengthy new contract is important for the future of the club.
The forward, who turned 18 earlier this month, is set to agree to what is believed to be a five-year deal before the weekend.
Sterling is the brightest of a crop of youngsters emerging from the academy and Rodgers believes building a good base of young - preferably home-grown - players would stand the club in good stead.
"Hopefully it (Sterling's contract) will be concluded within the next 24 hours," said the Reds boss. "I have said before that there was never a real issue, it was just a matter of timing and we hope that over the next couple of days that can be completed. It is important for me to gain that core of young British talent we can go forward with. You look at Raheem, at Jonjo Shelvey at 20 who signed a new deal in the summer, and Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson who are only 22. It is very important going forward we can secure those signatures and, of course, we are always looking for the best players. But it is equally important the young players coming through the system get rewarded but also feel this is the best place for them to develop."
Rodgers insisted he never had any fears Sterling's head would be turned by interest from Manchester City and Chelsea who could have offered him more a lucrative deal than he is to get at Anfield.
Liverpool are keen not to be held to ransom on the salary issue and are wary of paying the youngster too much too soon, but it is believed Sterling's new contract will be incentivised and include a number of performance-related increments.
However, just as important, according to Rodgers, was the youngster's well-being and development.
"We were always calm. I speak a lot with Raheem and his representatives and there has never been any issues from their side," he added. "It was just making sure that we take care in terms of the financial - but also the football - plan for the player. 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. His representatives know this is the best place for him. Once it gets concluded, he can start to the next part of his development and hopefully he can keep progressing."
Liverpool are edging closer to bringing former reserve team player Thomas Ince back to the club from Blackpool.
Rodgers refused to comment on speculation linking the 20-year-old, who has scored 13 goals in the npower Championship, with a return.
But he did admit they were looking to bolster the ranks of young players familiar with domestic football.
"Our scouting network have been looking high and low for all sorts of talents to come in here," he added. "At this moment in time there is nothing to speak about. If we can get talented young players in - and young British players - that will be fantastic for us. Any negotiations take place by the people above me and we'll conclude what we can as early as we can."