Liverpool FC's best-known scousers – well in the current
squad at least – have committed themselves to being Liverpool players for at
least another four years. The captain Steven Gerrard and vice-captain Jamie
Carragher will still be with the club in 2011.
Rafael Benitez has made it one of the priorities for this
summer to see that existing players are not in a position to be tempted away
under new UEFA (well who else messes with
football so badly?) rules that allow players to buy themselves out of a
contract if it has less than two years to run. The effect of this is that
transfer fees are replaced by an alternative, and much lower, payment. Rafa
also wants to see Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso kept on, but their negotiations are
not so far advanced.
In fact the deals to keep Carra and Stevie at the club were
agreed two weeks ago, and this afternoon was the first time the duo have been
available to physically sign the documents since they were drawn up. The pair
have the same agent which will help negotiations move on more quickly, but Rafa
will still be frustrated that a deal has still not been agreed for Pepe Reina
in particular. According to the local media, the Liverpool Echo, Rafa will be
hoping to let Momo Sissoko know that he has no intention of selling him, hence
the clear signal that they would reject the anticipated £10m bid from Juventus.
More worrying is the implication that Rafa has still not been given a budget
and now looks like having to sell before he can buy. Rafa is still on holiday
but the Echo claim the comments distancing Liverpool from a move to buy Daniel
Alves relate to the fact that Rafa feels he's not going to be given enough
money to buy him. If it does turn out that the new owners are not actually
willing to stump up any money – as promised – they'll find the honeymoon period
is over rather quickly. On the other hand don't be surprised if the money is
there after all, but Rafa is trying to spread it further by leaking stories he's
not got a great deal to spend. We'll know how good a transfer window this has
been in about another 12 weeks when it all comes to an end!
What has made it start off well is that we have signed two
players we really would hate to see leave. Imagine a Reds squad with Carra's name
next to number 23, or without Steven Gerrard's name in there as captain. Thanks
to a short break from England duty the pair were able to write their names on
the contracts and ensure they will be doing their bit to try and bring the
league title back home to Anfield.
They spoke to the official site, www.liverpoolfc.tv, about their deals just
before flying back off again to be with their country's squad for a vital
qualifier. Jamie said: "I'm very pleased. Obviously we're both local lads and I've
always said I wanted to stay here for the rest of my career." Carra's hoping
this will be his penultimate contract: "Hopefully I've got one more left in me
that'll take me until the end of my career. I've signed for four years and
hopefully I can still be a regular in the team. That's the aim anyway."
His captain was also delighted: "I'm really pleased too,"
said Gerrard. "The negotiations have gone really smoothly. Although they've
been spoken about for a couple of weeks, I think it's happened pretty quickly.
I'm just pleased to get it out of the way and we look forward to next season
now. Hopefully over the next four years we can deliver a lot more trophies."
Despite the well documented doubts Gerrard had in 2004 and
2005 about where his future lay, it would have been a shock if he'd hadn't
agreed to sign a new deal. "Me and Jamie have spoken about it between ourselves
and as soon as the club mentioned a new contract for us both, we were both delighted
to sign it straight away," he said.
Gerrard was asked if
the club were now putting the fight to bring home number 19 to the top of the
agenda: "Yes," he said. "I think these are exciting times at the football club
with the takeover and the new stadium. We've both signed for four years and I'm
sure they're going to be four exciting years. I don't see why we can't go from
strength to strength and win a load more trophies, not just the Premiership but
more cups as well. Having said that, we can't get away from the fact that the Premiership
is the one we want."
Carra looked on the bright side over the defeat in Athens: "You
lose a game that big and you're disappointed, of course, but, if you look at
the big picture, it's two European Cup finals in three years. I think we've put
the club right back up there in European terms. You can't expect to win the
European Cup every year but you've got to be there or thereabouts every year
and that's starting to happen. We're getting to semi-finals and finals and we're
knocking on the door every year. That's what Liverpool's all about. That's what
it's been about in the past and I think over the last two or three years, we've
got Liverpool back up there. We've also won the Super Cup twice and the UEFA
Cup in 2001 so it's been a great few years for Liverpool in Europe. We'd love to
go close to that again but, as I say, each year you want to be knocking on the
door which is what we've done."
The negative tales leaking out of Rafa not getting the money
he thought he would, the nonsense from UEFA's Gaillard and of course the defeat
in Athens have left many Liverpool fans on a downer. Gerrard isn't down about
the future though, and wants to ensure he plays his part: "I think you've seen
off the field that the club's wanting to move forward in the right direction.
It's the same for the players and we want to back that up by delivering big
performances on the pitch to make sure the club continues to be successful for
years to come. It's no good all of the things happening right off the pitch if
the players don't deliver on it. That's where me and Jamie and the other boys
come in and hopefully we can back that up with the way we play. I think it's a
good statement from the club to show that they're signing big players for a
By "signing big players" Gerrard is referring to himself and
Jamie, but inevitably the excitement for fans is from the anticipation of which
new players will be coming in. Carra is as bad as the rest of us in wanted to
find out if anyone new has signed: "When I'm away I'm always ringing up to see
what's in the Echo and to see if anything's happening. It's a long summer and
the season doesn't start until the middle of August. We're just like any other
fans on the street – desperate to see how things take shape. The main thing is
to make sure we get the right players between now and the middle of August when
the season starts – that'll give us a better chance to do well in all of the
competitions next season."
After the England
game on Wednesday the duo finally get a break after another long season.
Gerrard's looking forward to the rest: "I can't wait for it! It's been a long
season and after the World Cup last year, we only got maybe two and a half
weeks off before we went straight into the Champions League qualifier. It's
been a long season and it's important that after Wednesday we get some rest
because we want to be fresh and ready for the beginning of next season."