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The Steven Gerrard saga - BBC

25.05.05 GERRARD SET TO STAY

With Gerrard a Champions League winner after his team's memorable victory on penalties over AC Milan, the 25-year-old appears set to stay at Anfield.

"How can I think of leaving Liverpool after a night like this?" said Gerrard afterwards.

"I am really happy with the club. I will be having talks with the chairman and the manager shortly, but it is looking good."

Gerrard scored Liverpool's first goal to spark his team's sensational fightback after they trailed 3-0 at the break.

The midfielder had spoken extensively of his desire to win trophies and seemed the happiest man on earth as he lifted the European Cup.

16.06.05 LET'S CHAT

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry indicates that talks will soon open on a new contract for Gerrard.

"The priority is to keep Steven and build a winning team around him," Parry told BBC Radio Five Live.

"As long as he wants to stay, we want to keep him."

Parry is extremely keen to ensure that the talismanic midfielder remains at the club and seems confident he will do so.

The Reds chief suggests there is "no higher priority for the club" than persuading Gerrard to sign a new deal.

In turn, Gerrard hints he is ready to talk.

"The ball is in Liverpool's court now," said Gerrard.

"We haven't spoken about a new contract yet and I don't know how long those talks will go on for."

20.06.05 THE LYNCHPIN OF OUR SIDE

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez makes it clear that Gerrard is central to his plans.

"We are preparing a special weightlifting plan for Gerrard's shoulders because we want him to lift a lot of trophies for us in the next few years," said the Spaniard.

"I am not in favour of selling him.

"We're building a great team around him as we want him to be the skipper who wins the most titles in our history."

Benitez was talking to a Spanish newspaper following speculation linking Gerrard with a move to Real Madrid. Despite the positive vibes since the Champions League final, Gerrard continues to be linked with Madrid and Chelsea.

27.06.05 BACK TO WORK

Gerrard - and the rest of his team-mates - return for pre-season training 33 days after their Champions League glory in Istanbul.

After the previous summer's lingering uncertainty - would Gerrard move to Chelsea or wouldn't he? - the midfielder insists he wants his future sorted out as quickly as possible.

29.06.05 THE TALKING STARTS

Wednesday and Struan Marshall - Gerrard's agent - has returned from holiday and he meets with Parry to sort out the new deal that all Liverpool fans want to see.

Liverpool are optimistic of a positive outcome and the indecision and uncertainty of the previous summer - when Gerrard appeared likely to join Chelsea for £31m - seems a long time ago.

01.07.05 SIGNS OF TROUBLE

Friday - three days after contract talks finally opened - and the first signs that all is not well.

Spanish newspaper As runs a story claiming Gerrard told Benitez an offer from Real Madrid was "extremely tempting".

As has strong links with Real and added that Gerrard has refused to commit to Liverpool and would be offered wages of £8m a year to move to Spain.

But the whisper from his camp is that the player never had this conversation.

04.07.05 ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE

Something has clearly gone badly wrong between Liverpool and their captain.

After a weekend of speculation that talks had broken down, Gerrard's agent Struan Marshall finally admits this to be the case and suggests they are "unlikely to be re-opened".

Parry, who says he is mystified at the agent's comments, holds a meeting with Gerrard and chairman David Moores at which an offer of £100,000-a-week - a club record - was tabled.

"We are completely surprised by the comments," said Parry. "When we met on Wednesday, things were fine."

Meanwhile, manager Rafael Benitez attends a news conference to unveil new signing Bolo Zenden.

During this he insists he wants Gerrard to stay forever:

"I renew my deal with Liverpool in four or five years and when I do I would like Stevie to be my next coach, assistant manager and maybe even the next manager after me. He can even have the chief scout position if he wants it.
 
"I want him to stay with the club. We are trying to build a better team and a better squad and I want Stevie to be a major part of that. Last season I tried to get Stevie to sign a new deal three times. On each occasion he said wait, so we waited. This year we want to win more trophies and that is why we are improving our squad with new signings."

05.07.05 CHELSEA MOVE IN AS GERRARD SAYS GOODBYE

"Sadly, Steven has told us this afternoon that he will not accept our offer of an improved and extended contract because he wants to leave Liverpool," said a Reds statement. 

Gerrard himself later issues a statement, admitting: "This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make.

"I fully intended to sign a new contract after the Champions League final, but the events of the past five to six weeks have changed all that."

Not entirely surprisingly, Real Madrid have re-confirmed their interest, while Chelsea are clearly firmly back in the picture. 

06.07.2005 A SUDDEN AND DRAMATIC U-TURN

Rick Parry has this morning revealed that Steven Gerrard has changed his mind over wanting to leave Anfield and committed his future to Liverpool FC. 

The Reds chief executive broke the amazing news as he arrived at Anfield today following several late night and early morning phone calls with the Liverpool captain.
 
"I couldn't be more delighted," said Parry. "He has decided to stay with us because he realises how much the club means to him.
 
"Even when he said he was going I don't think the language he used suggested he really wanted to go. He was talking about the last few days being difficult and not being able to come back, he never actually said he wanted to go.
 
"Over the last 24 hours he has reflected on it, thought it through and he wants to stay.
 
"From our point of view it's what we wanted all along. I have apologised to Stevie if I've mis-read his emotions. I guess after Istanbul I thought I knew where we were going but he clearly thought for whatever reason that the club wasn't as enthusiastic about keeping him as we might have been. He was anxious. 

"There were one or two issues with the contract which he took to mean a lack of enthusiasm on our part, which it wasn't. He understands that now. We've had some emotional moments together, cleared everything up and I don't think this will happen again.
 
"I don't think he's staying because he was concerned about the negative reaction. I made the point on Monday to him to think of the fans in Istanbul and ask himself how he could leave that. Obviously the last day or two hasn't been easy for him but this isn't a decision for negative reasons. "He's found it complicated but deep down it was always a difficult decision for him to say he wanted to go. We're all absolutely thrilled and I'm more certain than ever that he's fully committed and that this is where he wants to be." 

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