Tuesday, May 15, 2007

LiverpooL Skipper Set To Pen New Deal

Steven Gerrard has told Liverpool's chiefs it's "in your own hands now" as he prepares to commit the rest of his career to Anfield.

The Liverpool skipper flew out with his team-mates to La Manga for a five-day training camp ahead of the Champions League final, admitting he was ready and willing to sign a new deal once it has been cleared by the club.

The 26-year-old, who has two years left on his current deal, wants to "sign for the best years of my career" and is hoping the new five-year deal, worth a reported £120,000 a week, can be concluded ahead of next week's date with AC Milan in Athens.

Gerrard said: "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.

"It is all now up to Rick Parry (chief executive) and the American people, and (manager) Rafa (Benitez), when it actually happens."

Gerrard, along with Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Steve Finnan and Jose Reina, have all been in talks over new contracts.

Now Gerrard says: "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."

He added: "Talks are progressing well, and I am ready to sign a new contract any time. It is just around the corner.

"You will have to ask Rick and the Americans when it is going to be done, I am not exactly sure but I am ready to sign as soon as the contract is put in front of me."

Gerrard, Carragher and co are now in Spain, for Benitez's intense preparation, which will also include training to acclimatise the players to playing late in the evening, with the final starting at 9.45pm Greek time and due to end close to midnight.

Carragher said: "When we played AC Milan in 2005, everything about the game was new to us really.

"We'd played in big games before, but that was obviously the biggest of all our careers. There's a long build-up before the final, but it's always useful when you've been through it all once before.

"If you're not careful the occasion can just pass you by, and in the first half two years ago there was a possibility of that happening. This time nothing can take us by surprise.

"Everything we went through can only help us, and even the fact we're playing a side we know a lot about can be an advantage to ourselves as well as Milan."

He added: "After what happened in Istanbul, we also know if the worst comes to the worst and we go a goal down, or even 2-0 down, no-one will think the game is over. What happened in the last game is sure to be in everyone's mind no matter what the situation.

"We know what can happen in a final, although obviously we'd prefer to get our noses in front this time. We definitely don't want to make things as difficult for ourselves."