Hodgson joy at Gerrard’s Reds pledge
LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson has hailed Steven Gerrard as his “best player” after the captain pledged his immediate future to the club.
Gerrard said yesterday he was looking forward to teaming up with new signing Joe Cole, a move that appeared to end the prospect of him leaving Anfield this summer.
The England midfielder, 30, had been strongly linked with a transfer to Real Madrid, whose interest was given credence by Gerrard’s failure to publicly commit to his current employers.
But Gerrard, who met Hodgson for talks last week, has been sufficiently impressed by his new boss and the acquisition of international colleague Cole to plan for another year with the club he joined aged nine.
And Hodgson, who has taken the squad on a training camp to Switzerland while Gerrard recovers from World Cup duty back on Merseyside, wasted no time in celebrating the development.
“It’s a great piece of news. There won’t be anyone in Liverpool today who isn’t delighted to hear that,” said Hodgson.
“I’m really pleased about it because I’ve got great respect for Steven Gerrard. He’s a player who I was really looking forward to working with when I came to Liverpool. It seems now with that commitment that this will happen. It gives everyone a boost without question.
“It will be a tough season, with a lot of matches and the disappointment of last season is going to take a while to dissipate, but it is very good that our best player is still going to be playing at this club.”
Gerrard had welcomed the acquisition of Cole, who joined on a free transfer on Monday after his release from Chelsea.
“It’s a great signing for us,” he said. “It will be fantastic to play alongside him in a red shirt for Liverpool. I’ve told him what a great club this is and I’m sure Joe’s the sort of exciting talent our fans will love to see.”
On his future, he added: “I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family. I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and having done so I’m very impressed with his plans for the future of the team. I’ve only returned to training today but I can’t wait for the new season to start.”
Hodgson’s next task is to persuade striker Fernando Torres to stay at the club, despite interest from Chelsea, although he appears to face a battle to retain midfielder Javier Mascherano, a target for Inter Milan.
He is, however, set to seal his second Liverpool signing today after agreeing in principle to pay Rangers £2m for young defender Danny Wilson. The fee could rise up to £5m depending on appearances.