Gerrard signs new deal
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on Thursday saluted skipper Steven Gerrard’s contract extension, claiming it would serve to bolster the team’s renewed push for silverware. Gerrard in April agreed a deal to stay at Anfield until 2013, completing the formalities after returning from his summer holiday to begin pre-season training. Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres, Daniel Agger and Yossi Benayoun have also penned new deals. “We have spent this summer trying to secure the players we have,” Benitez said. “It’s really good to keep Kuyt, Torres, Agger, Benayoun and Steven. They are the here and now of the club and for the future it is really good. We are really pleased. We have a lot of good players who want to stay, to win and compete.”
Lemerre out of a job
Roger Lemerre’s departure as Morocco coach was made official on Thursday, ending weeks of speculation over the future of the French manager. Lemerre leaves a year into his four-year contract after a resolution on pay-off terms was reached with the Morocco Football Federation, spokesman Abdelah Ghellam told reporters. Lemerre, who won the European Championship with France in 2000 and four years later achieved a unique double by guiding Tunisia to the Africa Cup of Nations trophy, took over Morocco a year ago with a mandate to secure World Cup qualification. However, after an easy passage through the first phase of the preliminaries, Morocco have struggled in their final-round group, picking up two points from their first three matches.
Aurelio injures his knee
Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio could miss the start of the season after injuring his knee on holiday and requiring a cartilage operation. “He was injured playing with his son and was really disappointed because he was enjoying the summer,” Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez told reporters on Thursday. “He had the operation — he has had a problem with his cartilage — so he will be one month, maximum two months, not six months like I see in the press.” The 29-year-old Brazilian fullback was a regular last season, making 33 appearances.
Marchionni joins Fiorentina
Juventus winger Marco Marchionni agreed to join Fiorentina on Thursday, opening the way for Arsenal target Felipe Melo to move in the opposite direction. “Florence was always my first choice,” Marchionni told reporters after initially rejecting Fiorentina’s offer which threatened the player plus cash deal involving Brazil midfielder Melo. If Melo completes a move to Turin he will join up with compatriot and former Werder Bremen playmaker Diego, who was being unveiled on Juve’s first day of pre-season training on Thursday. Diego will wear No. 28 because Alessandro Del Piero holds his preferred No. 10 shirt.
Pennant signs for Zaragoza
Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant completed his switch from Anfield to promoted Spanish side Real Zaragoza on Thursday on a three-year deal. The 26-year-old, who played in the 2007 Champions League final, said he had snubbed offers from other clubs to play in Spain. “I wanted to come to Spain. I had offers from other important clubs in Europe, but I wanted to sign for Real Zaragoza,” Pennant, who played 163 matches in three seasons at Liverpool, told the club’s Web site. “I want to get started and do well in the championship.”