Riise signs new deal

Liverpool’s Norwegian left-back John Arne Riise today signed an extension to his contract to keep him at Anfield for another three-and-a-half years.

Riise, who is also often used in a more advanced role on the left side of midfield, was signed by Gerard Houllier from Monaco in 2001 for £4.6million. Riise has been one of the few successful signings left behind by the French former manager of the club, and his decision to commit himself for such a length of time was brilliant news for the current boss. Speaking to the official LFC website, Rafael Benítez said: “I’m delighted that John has signed a new deal with us. He is a dedicated player, very professional and he has a great mentality. His attitude is first class. He trains well and works hard every day.  He has always done a good job for Liverpool, whether at left back or in left midfield and it’s great news that we can include him in our plans for the coming years.”

Riise himself was also delighted to have been given the chance to stay with the European Champions. He spoke to Norwegian press today about the deal: “This is a fantastic club that I know through and through. I am very happy in English football and look forward to continuing my career in Liverpool.”

The 25-year-old will be hoping for a chance to score one of his trademark goals against rivals Manchester United on Sunday. One of his fellow left-backs at the club, Stephen Warnock, explained what he feels is a big reason behind that rivalry: “There is a lot of jealousy – they won a lot of league titles in the 1990s and we want to do the same, but then we won the European Cup last year and they’d love to do that. That’s the way it goes and it’s what makes this fixture so special.”

Warnock was making his way through Liverpool’s academy as United were making their way towards trying to catch Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles. It’s only on rare occasions that Liverpool have looked to be on a par with United over those years, but now there’s little to choose between the two clubs. Liverpool are the only ones with any silverware right now, but United are slightly ahead in the league. Warnock explained how Liverpool are looking to edge the American-run side this season: “We admire Manchester United, they are a great team that has enjoyed a lot of success and we want to reach that same level they were at a few years ago. I think we’ve shown that we’re more than capable of matching them now and at the end of the season our results will hopefully show that.”

Warnock has been a supporter of the Reds all his life, and is well aware of the Liverpool tradition of concentrating on the match in hand: “Obviously we know where we are and what’s at stake but like the boss said earlier this week we try not to look at the table too much. It’s an old adage but we’ve just got to keep concentrating on the next match. The last game between us was a bit of a stalemate. Both sides cancelled each other out and were more interested in not getting beat. I think everyone expects a lot of from these matches and there’s always a lot of hype.”