By Merseyside correspondent Cam Downes
Raheem Sterling is on the radar of Arsenal despite the controversies that have surrounded him in recent months, Football Insider sources understand.
The Gunners are among the leading clubs interested in signing English football’s hottest property, who is stalling on a new Liverpool contract.
It has been suggested that Arsenal’s interest has cooled following Sterling’s now infamous BBC interview without Liverpool’s permission and the fact he has been caught smoking shisha and inhaling nitrous oxide.
However, Football Insider has learned the FA Cup holders are not having second thoughts over their interest in the 20-year-old.
This could be a significant factor in Sterling’s future given, as revealed by Football Insider, he has told friends he wants to return to the capital.
The Jamaica-born winger was raised in Wembley and came through the youth system at QPR before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old.
Despite Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insisting that Sterling is going nowhere this summer, Arsenal and Chelsea have been told that Sterling might be available and are closely monitoring what could develop into the biggest transfer saga of the forthcoming window.
Both clubs have a genuine interest in a player whose situation is also being monitored by Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Sterling stunned Liverpool by giving an interview last month in which he claimed he is not motivated by money in stalling over a £100,000-a-week contract and admitting he is “quite flattered” at being linked with Arsenal.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is not expected to sign an orthodox striker this summer but he is in the market for a ‘special’ young forward who can play in any of the three attacking roles behind a front man.
The likes of Sterling and Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus are on Arsenal’s radar, although they are set to miss out on Palermo’s Paulo Dybala, who is on the verge of signing for Juventus.
Rodgers says Sterling will not be granted a summer exit from Anfield.
The manager said: “He’s got two-and-a-half years to go on his deal and he’s not going anywhere in the summer. I cannot speak for the owners but I have a good idea of what they would do. I know them well enough and for me it would not happen. Liverpool are one of the superpowers of football and the owners have made it clear that money doesn’t come into it. If the club doesn’t want to sell, it won’t sell, it’s as simple as that. Money has never been the objective for the club.
“Whatever player — Raheem or anybody — it would always be on the terms of the club. He still has two-and-a- bit years left of his deal so it’s not something we’re overly concerned about. I’m confident that at the end of the season we’ll find the solution.”