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Gerrard signs new deal

LIVERPOOL, April 3 – Steven Gerrard has followed Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez in pledging his long-term future to the club by signing a new contract.

STEVEN_GERRARDThe 28-year-old had two years to run on his previous deal but has now committed to the club until the end of the 2012-13 season, by which time he will be 33 and nearing the end of his career.

"This is fantastic news for the club," Benitez said. "Steven has once again shown his commitment and it was an easy deal to agree. As soon as we offered him the option he said yes. There were no problems at all. He wants to stay for life.

"This deal sends out another clear message that we are moving forward as a club. To know we have a player of Steven’s quality with us for many more years is a great boost for the club and the fans.

"He is clearly a player who inspires those around him and even though he is playing very well at the moment, I still think his best years are ahead of him."

Gerrard’s decision to sign a new deal followed last month’s announcement that Benitez had committed himself to the Liverpool cause until 2014.

New contracts for most of the Spanish manager’s backroom staff have followed and a number of other first-team players, including Jose Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger are expected to be presented with new contracts in the coming weeks.

Gerrard’s decision to commit to Liverpoool also comes amid mounting optimism over the club’s fortunes on the pitch.

With the England international now being used as a second striker behind Fernando Torres, Benitez’s men have been in oustanding form of late.

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A victory over Fulham on Saturday would send Liverpool above Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, for 24 hours at least, and last month’s thrashing of Real Madrid has established them as one of the favourites to win the Champions League.

The announcement of Gerrard’s new contract came on the day he was due to appear in court over charges of affray in relation to a nightclub brawl in which in he was allegedly involved.

A more serious assault charge was dropped last month, lifting the threat of Gerrard receiving a prison sentence.

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