Champions League winners Liverpool remain determined to keep skipper Steven Gerrard at Anfield.
Widespread reports have surfaced claiming Gerrard feels he is being forced out of the club because Reds chief executive Rick Parry has failed to open contract negotiations as quickly as he hoped.
The influential midfielder indicated his desire to stay at Anfield in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s stunning European Cup triumph over AC Milan in May and thought the issue would be dealt with almost instantly.
Instead, just 10 days away from Rafael Benitez’s men beginning the defence of their trophy against Welsh minnows Total Network Solutions, Gerrard is no nearer agreeing a new deal.
The 25-year-old has two years remaining on his contract and Parry knows unless his future is resolved one way or another this summer, his vast market value will begin to plummet.
Chelsea and Real Madrid are both rumoured to be monitoring developments, although Liverpool spokesman Ian Cotton insists the Merseyside giants do not want to lose their talisman.
“Our position is very clear,” he said. “We want Gerrard to stay at the club.”
As a lifelong Liverpool fan, Gerrard would be reluctant to leave Anfield, although he does know he could probably land a more lucrative contract elsewhere such would be the demand for his services.
With seemingly no end to the impasse in sight, it will be interesting to see whether Benitez selects Gerrard for the first leg of the TNS clash.
Even though the Spaniard knows his side should comfortably see off the Welsh champions with or without their captain, Gerrard’s absence would almost certainly be interpreted as an attempt to retain his current £30million value by not getting him cup-tied.
There is some better news for Liverpool fans with the arrival of out of contract Dutchman Boudewijn Zenden from Middlesbrough.
The former Chelsea star was an influential figure in Boro securing a UEFA Cup spot last term and has been targeted by Benitez as a replacement for Vladimir Smicer.