Brendan Rodgers says that Liverpool have offered Raheem Sterling an "incredible" new deal and will not bow to excessive wage demands as they continue contract talks.
Liverpool have been negotiating with Sterling's agent, Aidy Ward, since October but having believed they had made a breakthrough with an offer understood to be near pounds 100,000 a week, it remains unclear if there will be a resolution before the end of this season. Sterling's agent is pursuing considerably more than the current Liverpool proposal.
Steven Gerrard, the captain, suggested that Liverpool should secure Sterling and vice-captain Jordan Henderson as matter of urgency. Rodgers said that every effort was being done to do so.
"Steven is relaying a message that the club is wanting as well," Rodgers said. "Both players are very, very important for the future and the club recognise that and I only hope that it will be resolved very soon.
"Raheem has been offered a wonderful deal for a young player who is still developing. He has made some great strides in these last couple of years and will get rewarded for that. Hopefully his representatives can find agreement with the club. The player is very happy and wants to continue working in the way he has been.
"I am only saying what I know what the club has offered, which is an incredible deal for a young player. I have spoken to Raheem a number of times. He is very happy here and you see that in his game. What he has been granted at this club is an opportunity. We see that with lots of young players. They are getting the opportunity to play here and they get rewarded for that. But we are not a club that is going to give out way above what a player is worth at a certain time of his career."
Liverpool are guaranteeing a salary which would be a club record for a 20-year-old, with the promise of further rewards should certain targets be met. These include appearances, goals, Champions League qualification and trophies. An incentivised proposal of this nature is negotiated with all Anfield stars, with the owners Fenway Sports Group determined to end what they perceived as a wasteful culture prior to their takeover when wages were too high.
Ward is in the process of splitting from former partner Rob Segal, which is also though to have complicated recent talks. It is understood that the representative is concerned about the incentive clauses, given how rarely the club have finished in the top four in recent years. Although other clubs, such as Manchester City, offer the same deals to their players, Cham-pions League qualification for them is virtually guaranteed.
If the situation drags on until the end of the season, the player could end up losing millions, although there is the possibility of backdating payments.
Rodgers believes that there should be a longer-term perspective, -suggesting Sterling has evolved so swiftly because of how Liverpool have nurtured his progress. "It is not a case of giving any player - and I am talking generally here rather than just Raheem - what they want," he said.
"In general, it is very important that young players have something to strive for. If they get too much too young, then it can sabotage their development. That is the job of the club and why we communicate a lot with the players and their advisers.
"We want to reward our best talents and we are confident that will all be in hand and resolved soon. If they are given sound advice, they will see that because it is about mapping out the career of a young player.
"In Raheem's case, he has been outstanding since we put him in the team but we must not forget this is a 17-year-old boy who was given an opportunity at Liverpool. In the two and half years since he has been introduced into the squad, he has been fantastic but he still has a long way to go. He still has a bit to do in his development and we believe this will be the best place for him and I believe he knows that as well.
Rodgers also believes that Henderson's future will be cemented at Anfield shortly. "Jordan is a fantastic player. Hopefully that deal will get organised soon, which allows him to kick on because he still has a lot of improvements to make as well."