Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is sending out signals that he’s desperate to get his new deal signed and out of the way, and once again the signs are there that the club don’t share his sense of urgency.
Gerrard nearly left the club two years ago when Rick Parry delayed talks over a new deal. Parry went on holiday and Gerrard got nervous that perhaps the Reds were looking to cash in on him and use the cash to rebuild. The drama was soon ended when Gerrard had a last-minute change-of-mind, but Parry was lucky not to lose the player through being so laid back about a new deal. That deal is now two years old and Rafa Benítez wants it extending so that Gerrard can’t leave under new rules allowing players to buy themselves out of their contracts.
Speaking today, 26-year-old Gerrard said he’s got his pen ready: “Talks are progressing and I am ready to sign a new contract any time now. It's just around the corner. I am not sure when it will be done but I am ready to sign. As soon as the contract is put in front of me, I will sign it.”
The deal is said to be worth £120,000 a week for the inspirational midfielder who says he wants to give his best years to the club: “I'm coming up to 27-years-old now and hopefully I can sign a long-term deal that will see me having the best days of my career at Liverpool. Obviously it is all about whether you are good enough to be in the starting 11, but that is what I intend to happen now for the best years of my career.”
Gerrard reiterated that he was waiting on the club to sort out the paperwork: “It is all now up to Rick Parry and the American people – and Rafa – when it actually happens. I will be in La Manga now for the rest of the week at our training camp, but my advisors will be holding more talks to sort out the last details. I have told the club I want to stay and it is all now in the club's hands.”
Parry didn’t seem quite as keen to get things tied up before the final when he spoke to Radio 5 last week: “We're as keen as ever. It's always been our aim to keep Steven at the club for the rest of his career. In no way has that diminished,” said Parry. “He's ambitious and wants us to be winning trophies so the more successful we are and the more finals we are in, the happier he will be in the long term. We're not putting a timescale on it. We're keen to do it, he's keen to do it and it will get done. What we're focusing on now is the final.”
Parry is under pressure from fans after refusing to discuss why numbers didn’t seem to add up in the recent ballot for Champions League final tickets, and if he allows Gerrard to become unsettled again he’ll find it hard to hang onto any respect from Reds supporters at all. It’s important he manages the situation carefully now and ensures Gerrard knows the deal really is around the corner.
Gerrard says he was disappointed that Liverpool’s league season turned out the way it did, but he’s hopeful that next season there’ll be a much more effective challenge: “We can't escape the fact that, in the league, this season we haven't been good enough,” said Gerrard. “You ask the manager, or me, or indeed any of the players in our dressing room and they will all say exactly the same thing: We had bigger ambitions for this season than the Champions League.”
He went on: “We always had one eye on Europe because it is so prestigious and a tournament that has always served us well, but we also wanted the league flag flying back at Anfield and felt we were in a good position to have a real go. The league is always your bread and butter as a Liverpool player and we're not far away. With investment in the summer, and the squad here staying together we can promise to push Chelsea and United all the way next year.”