Liverpool have rejected accusations of ‘mentally bullying’ teenage forward Bobby Duncan.
The 18-year-old, who is the cousin of former club captain Steven Gerrard, had been the subject of interest from Serie A side Fiorentina recently but Liverpool want to keep the youngster.
Duncan’s representative, Saif Rubie, says Duncan is being kept at the club against his will.
The Reds described Rubie’s comments as “unfounded allegations”.
In a lengthy statement released on social media, Rubie said: “This is not really dignified behaviour from a club with the rich history of Liverpool and one [at which] one of their greatest-ever players, Steven Gerrard, happens to be Bobby’s cousin.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that a club such as Liverpool can be allowed to get away with mentally bullying and destroying the life of a young man such as Bobby.”
Duncan joined Liverpool from Manchester City in 2018 and scored 32 goals in all competitions for the club’s under-18 side last season.
He was part of the Reds’ squad for their pre-season tour of the USA this summer and also scored in the 6-0 friendly defeat of Tranmere in July.
In a response to Rubie’s comments, Liverpool said: “Liverpool Football Club is aware of and disappointed by the unattributed comments and unfounded allegations that have been made in the media regarding one of our players.
“As the interests of the player in question are not best served by either inaccurate speculation, inflammatory statements or public discourse, we will be making no further comment.
“We will, however, continue our efforts to work privately with the player to find resolution in the best interests of all involved.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, in a reply to Rubie’s statement on Twitter, said: “I know Bobby and his family well. He’s young and at that age we all want everything right now.
“[He] played for the first team in pre-season, which is a great start, and he should try to develop this season and maybe make the bench in [the] Carabao Cup. That should be the advice you’re giving him.”