LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez believes players like Jamie Carragher are part of a dying breed.
The Bootle-born centre-back is set to make his 600th appearance for the club he joined as a schoolboy at Portsmouth today.
Carragher worked his way through the academy and an apprenticeship to make his debut on January 8, 1997.
But with football having gone global in the intervening years Benitez believes Carragher’s achievements will be almost impossible to replicate.
“Maybe someone will do it but it will be very difficult. Now there is too much money around the world in football,” said the Liverpool manager.
“If you have a good player normally someone will make a good offer and the agents have too much power.
“Modern football is more difficult so 600 games in a top side for a local player is a massive achievement.”
Benitez paid tribute to Carragher, who has played in both full-back positions and also as a defensive midfielder during his Liverpool career, for reaching the 600-game mark.
In doing so he will become only the ninth Liverpool player to reach the appearance milestone.
“Carra has a strong character, passion, he likes to win every game, and that is the type of player you are looking for. He has improved his game and, because he is a centre-back, he has time and he will play for a long time.”
The 31-year-old Carragher has 18 months left on his current contract and, in an interview yesterday, said the club had not yet offered him a new deal.
However, Benitez played down the comments, insisting there was no issue between him and the player.
“He has 18 months left on his contract and he is clever; he knows that when a player is over 30 you have to manage them in a different way than when you sign a player who is 20 years old,” said Benitez.
“I don’t see any problem if he continues to play at the same level and we will talk about this in the future as we have a fantastic relationship with him and his agent. He is taking care of himself, he is a very good professional, and I think he can play a lot of years.”
Benitez also thinks Carragher will make a good coach and, possibly, even manage Liverpool one day.
“He knows the game. We talk about football all the time and he is someone you have to listen to,” said the current Reds boss.
“He is doing some practice in the academy, so I think he will be a manager – hopefully not the Liverpool manager in the next four or five years but in the future.”
While much of the focus has been on Carragher’s landmark appearance, Benitez has been concentrating on planning for victory at bottom side Portsmouth to maintain the momentum created by Wednesday’s win over Wigan. He has former Pompey full-back Glen Johnson back after injury and winger Ryan Babel returning following an ankle problem.
“Portsmouth is a tricky game because it is a Saturday early kick-off,” said the Spaniard.
“They have had problems but now with Avram Grant they have a manager with experience and they did well against Chelsea (in a 2-1 midweek defeat).”
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