Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Reds dish out new deals to ensure sustained success

AFP, LIVERPOOL, England

Liverpool are working to ensure this season’s English Premier League title push is not a one-off as they lay the foundations for continued success after struggling in recent years to sustain a challenge.

Within 20 months of running a Manchester United side containing Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney close in 2008-2009, the core of the side built by Rafael Benitez had been dismantled by the departures of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres.

Five years ago, after the goals of Luis Suarez propelled Liverpool to the verge of the title, the Uruguayan packed his bags for Barcelona at the end of the season.

Just a year ago, Philippe Coutinho forced his way out of Anfield to join Suarez in Catalonia.

After receiving a £142 million (US$187 million) transfer fee for the Brazilian, Liverpool bought goalkeeper Alisson Becker and dominant defender Virgil van Dijk. Now they are investing heavily in keeping together the squad they have assembled.

Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were joined by promising fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold in recently signing extended deals, with eight players in total agreeing new contracts to 2023 or beyond in the past eight months.

“The club gave us a fantastic opportunity to bring in outstanding players, to keep outstanding players. My job is to make sure we perform on the pitch,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said after the raft of contract renewals. “Where will we be in two or three years? I have no idea, but the age group is good. This season will not finish our development. “It doesn’t look like we’ll lose any key player [and] we build a new training ground, another step in the future.”

According to the Times, the contract renewals would cost the club a total of up to £200 million extra.

“We want to write our names alongside the many great ones in the story of this club,” said Mane when penning his deal that runs until 2023. “Hopefully, it’s the beginning of something special.”

Klopp’s league leaders, who host Leicester City today, have a four-point cushion over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, but their lead could be whittled down to a solitary point by the time they kick off, with Manchester City in action 24 hours earlier at Newcastle United.

Liverpool’s early FA Cup exit has given Klopp’s men the bonus of extra rest and rehabilitation.

They have made the most of their break since Jan. 19 to jet off to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for a warm weather training camp.

“It’s the best time in the year if you have a week like that and can train,” Klopp said. “We used these four days for that and that worked out pretty well. Of course, we have to see in the end what we can take from it.”

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