New Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez has insisted that it isn't a secret that he admires Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling.
As reported by the BBC, Benitez, who was talking in his first press conference as the club's new manager, went on to suggest that he couldn't comment on the player despite revealing his admiration.
The future of Sterling, of course, has been the subject of much debate in recent time, with the player seemingly determined to leave Merseyside behind sooner rather than later.
Of course, the England international recently turned down a mega contract at the club worth as much as £100,000-a-week, but it's far from certain as to whether the Reds' hierarchy will allow him to leave this summer.
Unsurprisingly, Benitez's new side have been heavily linked with the player of late, but it remains to be seen as to whether Real press ahead with a move for the player anytime soon.
One thing's for sure, though, the club's new boss certainly likes the youngster, as he told reporters: "We admire Raheem, that's no secret - but he is not one of our players so I can't really comment on him."
Saga to continue
There's no doubt about it, Benitez's comments will only increase speculation that the player could head to La Liga, but the Spanish giants aren't the only club interested in the England man.
As well as Real, the Premier League quartet of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked with the player over the course of the last month, so there could yet be a number of huge twists in the race to land him.
Big decision for Liverpool
And, of course, there's a chance he may well stay at Anfield for the 2015/16 campaign. At the end of the day, Liverpool seemingly want to keep him at the club, so will no doubt look to hold on to him.
But, let's be honest, it's going to be difficult. Ok, so he is under contract, but his relationship with the club's fans has surely taken a hit in recent weeks. Of course, Liverpool are in control of the situation. Sterling has a contract with the club and they can keep him if that's what they want.
Ultimately, though, that would bring consequences. If he really doesn't want to be there, then it may well prove tricky for Brendan Rodgers and Co. to motivate him next term. It's not as if Sterling was hitting top form week in, week out in the second half of the 2014/15 campaign. It's a huge decision for all those involved.
Where do you think Sterling will be playing his football next season? Have your say in the comments section below!
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