Two new signings have been announced by Liverpool today – Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. Both players have signed four year deals, meaning that Liverpool will have their services until 2009.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool’s hero defender Carragher said: "We’ll go from strength to strength under Rafa Benitez." Carragher was rarely used as a centre back under Gerard Houllier, but showed last season how good he was in that position. There’s never been any question about Carragher leaving, and he’s proved it today with this deal. He said: "I’m absolutely delighted to have agreed this new contract. This is the best club in the world with the best fans, so I’m very proud to be a Liverpool player for the next four years and hopefully even longer."
Carragher was tipped to become Reds skipper earlier in the week when Gerrard looked to be moving, and last season was a skipper without the armband for many a game, his shouting clearly audible. He says the glory of Istanbul has brought morale to a new high at the club: "We’ve had some fantastic times recently and winning the Champions League was the biggest achievement of my career. Now we’ve done that, all of us have got that hunger to bring even more success to the club."
Liverpool’s success in recent years has been below the standards expected at Anfield, but as Jamie says, it’s still not that bad: "Both Stevie and Didi mentioned in interviews recently how they have won every medal except one since 2001. I’m in the same situation. Now we’re going to make winning the Premiership title our top priority."
Liverpool are looking to win their 19th league title, their first since 1990, and admits it will be a tough task – but not impossible: "We know how much it means to everyone here to get the Premiership trophy. I don’t know how soon we’ll be able to do it. It’s going to be tough to close the gap, but there’s no point us being defeatist about it. We proved in Europe what we can do on the big occasion and we’ve got to produce the same on a consistent basis in the league."
Liverpool have already announced the signings of four players this week, with more on the way today and over the weekend if plans go as expected. Carragher is pleased with the transfer dealings of Benitez, and trusts him to get everything right to get Liverpool on their way to success: "The manager has been working hard to strengthen the squad and he’s as determined as anyone to make sure there’s a big improvement in our league form. I’m sure we’re going to go from strength to strength under Rafa Benitez and I’m delighted he sees me as an important player over the next four years. There’s nowhere else I want to be."
Liverpool’s Chief executive, Rick Parry was pleased: "We’re delighted to have agreed the deals for both Steven and Jamie today."
One of the signings Liverpool are trying to line up is for Luis Figo. Figo has agreed terms with the Reds but is now talking to Real Madrid for an explanation of why they went back on their word to release him from his contract. Rafa Benitez is said to be unwilling to sign the player if there is now going to be a transfer fee. Real would face having to pay wages of around £90,000 a week until next summer if Figo decided to stay, and he could sign a pre-contract agreement in January under the Bosman ruling. Now Rafa Benitez is reporting to say he’s not prepared to pay the fee, so Real have to decide whether paying £4.5m in wages for the next year is worthwhile or not.