Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has joined colleagues Jamie
Carragher, Steven Gerrard and compatriot Pepe Reina in signing a new long-term
deal to stay at the club.
Like Reina, Xabi's deal will keep him at Anfield until 2012,
and he says there was never a doubt in his mind that he wanted to stay: "I knew
there was interest from other clubs but it was always my idea to stay here. I
have been here for three seasons now and have such special feelings for the
club and the supporters. I understand what Liverpool FC means to so many
people. It is such a special club and I just didn't want to leave."
According the Xabi there were no worries about the contract
at all: "We agreed that the talks would take place after the Champions League
final and, to be honest, in the end it was a simple decision for me because I
could see right away that the attitude of the club towards me was spot on. I
greatly appreciate all the hard work that Rick Parry has put in on this
contract and the faith that Rafa Benitez has shown in me. We all wanted to
reach an agreement and we're all happy with the outcome."
Like with the other players who've signed, it's not just the
financial aspects of the deal that motivated them to make this commitment: "I
want to be part of what lies ahead because I know it is going to be exciting.
I've signed for another five years and there's no reason why we can't be
successful. It's also good news to see that other players have signed new
contracts this week. Stevie, Carra and Pepe are all big players for us and it's
great they have all shown their commitment. I'm sure the manager will be
bringing in new players as well and that the new owners will be making a big
effort to improve the squad."
Xabi will now have a break before pre-season and what all
the players are hoping is a big season: "'m really excited because I think we
can achieve big things," he added. "Hopefully we won't make the same
mistakes next season as we did last season and we can win some more games. We
want to be challenging for the top teams. Even though I'm looking forward to a
holiday and a rest I can't wait for next season to begin."
Momo Sissoko is also said to be close to signing a new deal,
and with Gerrard and Mascherano also in the squad Xabi knows he's not going to
always be a guaranteed starter. He's happy with this: "It's great to have
competition and I am ready to fight for my place. The more top quality players
we have then the better the level of the team will be. I'm confident I can play
a lot of minutes on the pitch and keep the confidence of the manager."