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Sterling tips Reds for Champs League

Raheem Sterling has backed a revamped Liverpool to secure Champions League qualification next season.

Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers is attempting to bolster his squad by completing deals for Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas and Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tiago Ilori.

Rodgers, who has already signed central defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City, is also considering moves for Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Schalke's Greece international defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

So far, departures from Anfield have seen central defender Jamie Carragher retire, while striker Andy Carroll is trying to agree personal terms for a move to West Ham.

There is uncertainty over the future of Luis Suarez following his public announcement that he wants to leave, while goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been linked with Barcelona as a long-term replacement for Victor Valdes.

Sterling, though, feels Liverpool are on the right lines under Rodgers, who guided them to seventh place in his first season as manager.

The 18-year-old winger told the club's official website: "We just need to get a good start to next season and hopefully maintain that, and I think we've got a good chance of finishing in the top four.

"I can't talk any more highly of Brendan as a person, not just as a manager. He's not one of those who is only interested if you're playing well at that moment. He looks at players who are not playing, or young players.

"Liverpool should be really grateful they've got a manager like that."

Having brought in Toure, Rodgers is hopeful that Aspas will become his second signing of the summer within days.

Liverpool had planned to have the 25-year-old striker signed at the weekend, having agreed a £7.7 million fee with Celta Vigo.

But it is understood the deal was held up by an outstanding bonus payment due to him after he had helped Celta avoid relegation from the Spanish top flight on the final day of the season.

Sterling said he was looking forward to playing alongside new arrivals in August, having missed the end of last season with a thigh problem that forced him to pull out of the England squad for the European Under-21 Championships in Israel.

He added: "For me at Liverpool, it's about cementing a starting place in the team, getting a good run of games and hopefully getting some goals and assists as well. If I do that, then I hope I'll get a pick for the England squad."


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