Friday, April 3, 2009

Gerrard and Rafa receive Barclays Premier League Awards

STEVEN GERRARD celebrated agreeing a new contract at Liverpool yesterday by claiming an unprecedented fifth Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award and declaring: “I want to see out the rest of my career here.”

And the Anfield outfit were further boosted by the news Dirk Kuyt will also sign a new deal as Rafael Benitez continues safeguarding the long-term futures of key squad members.

Liverpool skipper Gerrard has agreed a two-year extension to his current deal, which still had two years to run, that ties him to the club until 2013.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to have agreed the deal,” said the 28-year-old, who has now claimed more monthly awards than any other player in Premier League history. “This is what I wanted. I want to see out the rest of my career with Liverpool.

“I have said all along that as long as the club wanted me then I would stay at Liverpool. I’ve been a fan all my life and it’ll be fantastic at the end of my career to look back and say I have been with Liverpool all the way through.

“The main priority is to be successful and I want to achieve success at the club I love. If we can win more trophies together then I will be really happy.

“This news has given me a boost and hopefully it will help us in our remaining games. We’ve got big matches to play, all of them cup finals as we have to win them all to stay in the title race and go all the way to Rome.”

Benitez added: “Steven’s new contract shows his desire for the club. It is great for him, the fans, the club, everyone connected with Liverpool.

“For me he is one of the best players in the world, although it is difficult to say ’the best’ with so much talent around.

“He has got better. He has matured, he is willing to learn in every training session. But he can still improve.

“It is probably the quickest new deal I have ever been involved in, sometimes they can drag on.”

Liverpool’s outstanding recent form was also further recognised with Benitez being named Manager of the Month, also his fifth such award and his second this season after being handed the accolade in October.

Kuyt, meanwhile, has agreed a two-year contract extension to his present deal, which was due to expire at the end of next season.

The Holland international is now set to stay at Anfield until at least 2012, and Benitez said: “This is another great piece of news for the club. He is a player with great quality who has a big part to play in our future.

“To have announced new deals for Steven and Dirk on the same day shows how hard everyone is working and that we are moving forward quickly as a club.”

Since signing his own new contract in March, Benitez has concentrated on securing deals for his backroom staff and leading players.

The priority has mainly been on players who are in the final two years of their contracts, such as Sami Hyypia, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa and young duo Stephen Darby and Jay Spearing.

Benitez has hinted talks will then take place with other established first-team players, including Jamie Carragher.

“Stevie and Carra have the same agent, but they are a different age and are different players,” said the Spaniard. “We’re not talking at the moment with Carra.

“But we are trying to keep the spine of the team here. Reina and Torres have long contracts so there is no rush but with Gerrard we wanted to be sure we keep the captain for a long time. It sends out the right message we are going forward.”

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