LIVERPOOL - A mixture of boos and calls for him to stay greeted Liverpool and England forward Raheem Sterling when he received the club's Young Player of the Year award on Tuesday - a day after it emerged that he wants a transfer.
The 20-year-old - who joined Liverpool from Queens Park Rangers in 2010 - had stirred up fans' feelings when it was reported in Tuesday's papers that he was seeking a move away, having turned down a new contract worth around £100,000 (S$207,000) a week.
While his agent moved to calm the mood earlier on Tuesday by saying the reports had been "blown somewhat out of proportion", it is still expected that Sterling will tell club manager Brendan Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre at a meeting tomorrow that he wishes to leave.
Speaking at the awards - where Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho was named Player of the Year - Rodgers admitted it had been a "difficult, trying season".
"A number of distractions that we couldn't have planned for have made it difficult, but the players have given everything," added the manager, whose own position at the club has been questioned after they missed out not only on silverware but also a Champions League place.
If Sterling - who told the BBC earlier this year he was not a "money-grabber" but wanted to win trophies - does go on the market, deposed English champions Manchester City are the perceived favourites to sign him.
Sterling has two years left on his current deal, thought to be worth £35,000 a week.
Sterling is believed to want to play in the Champions League and, aside from City's interest, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea are also reported to be watching the situation.
Liverpool's United States-based owners Fenway Sports Group are expected to demand a fee of around £50 million before they will consider selling him.
The Sterling issue is another blow to Rodgers, who has struggled to replace Luis Suarez following the Uruguay striker's move to Barcelona last year.