Raheem Sterling has told Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that he will refuse to go on the club’s pre-season tour to Australia and South-East Asia.
This is according to multiple sources, including the Mirror, who understand that Manchester City will now table a third bid worth close to £50 million for the wantaway England international.
Given Sterling’s apparent lack of professionalism, Liverpool are likely to accept City’s improved offer for the 20-year-old, who is also on the radar of Chelsea.
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It was reported last month that Sterling had been warned by his current employers to forget about a move away from Anfield and to get himself mentally prepared for the club’s pre-season tour.
But that message appears to have fallen on deaf ears with Sterling, who has made it crystal clear that he wants out of Liverpool as soon as possible.
Liverpool hope to sign Benteke or Pedro
There are few things more useless to a football club than a player who wants to go elsewhere - and cashing-in on the winger stands to benefit the Reds in more ways than one.
As well as offloading an unsettled and frustrated player, the cash generated from his sale will allow Liverpool to complete a move for a new top-level striker, with Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and Barcelona’s Pedro both on Rodgers’ radar.
Liverpool may need to pay up to £32.5 million in order to sign Benteke, while the challenge of signing Pedro - who remains unsettled at the Camp Nou - has been made more difficult after the Spain international put pen-to-paper on a new three-year contract last month.
Rodgers has already strengthened his squad over the past few weeks with the acquisition of several high-profile arrivals, including James Milner and Brazil international Roberto Firmino, but is keen to add a new striker to his ranks following last season’s struggles in front of goal.
Power battle could now ensue
Selling Sterling would free up the cash required for Liverpool to complete a big-money deal; however, a power battle threatens to ensue at Anfield.
The Reds will be keen to ensure they don’t come out of this situation looking weak by bowing to the demands of a 20-year-old footballer.
Ultimately Sterling is under contract at Liverpool, who have every right to demand he travels with the squad when they fly out to Bangkok this Sunday.
Sterling needs Manchester City to hurry up with this third offer. If that happens there’s a chance the deal will be completed in time to avoid this situation becoming a major issue.
Meanwhile, Liverpool fans have reacted to the news on social media, and here are a selection of some of the best tweets.
Liverpool fans: do you want Raheem Sterling to leave Anfield? What are your thoughts on his professionalism? Have your say in the comments below!