Gerrard ready to commit future to Liverpool cause

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The Independent Football

Amid the wild speculation regarding Chelsea's transfer activity in the aftermath of the club's takeover by Roman Abramovich, there was talk of attempting to lure Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen away from Liverpool.

On Tuesday, the Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier said he was confident that Owen would soon be signing a long-term contract extension, and yesterday Gerrard said he is close to finalising a new deal, adding: "I'm happy at Liverpool and the club is happy with me. I'm ready to commit myself to the club's future and I'm sure that's going to happen."

Another reported Chelsea target, Kieron Dyer, who has also been linked with Manchester United, will not be leaving Newcastle according to his chairman Freddie Shepherd. "Kieron Dyer isn't for sale," Shepherd said in Kuala Lumpur, where Newcastle are on tour. "I don't think even Ken [Bates, the Chelsea chairman] has enough roubles."

While denying that Newcastle had placed a £25m price on Dyer, Shepherd added: "If we got a ridiculous bid, any club in the Premiership would sell him for that. But we don't want to sell him and have no intention of selling him."

Also speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Bates tried to cool the speculation regarding potential purchases. "The expectations of fans are always impossible," he said. "Money alone does not buy you success."

Confirming that his club had made no bid for Dyer, Bates denied claims from his Birmingham counterpart David Gold that Chelsea have abandoned "common sense" in their transfer dealings, saying: "We haven't actually spent that much. So far we have spent £34m on four players, which is only £4m more than Manchester United spent on Rio Ferdinand last summer."

Gold's club was the most active in the transfer market yesterday, signing the Argentinian striker Luciano Figueroa on a five-year contract. The 22-year-old, who joins from Rosario Central for £2.5m, completed a medical and concluded talks with the club's managing director, Karren Brady.

Figueroa, hailed by some as the new Gabriel Batistuta and the subject of a recent failed bid by Rangers, was the top scorer in Argentina last season with 17 goals, including five in Rosario's 7-2 win over Boca Juniors.

"We believe for the price we have got a very, very good player," said the Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce.

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