Gerrard refuses Chelsea's £6.5m bait

After persuading Steven Gerrard to turn down a move to Chelsea that would have made him Britain's highest-paid footballer, Liverpool hope Michael Owen will also commit his future to Anfield.

Owen has a year remaining on his contract and can leave Liverpool for nothing at the end of next season. The announcement that Gerrard has turned his back on a £30m transfer, which might have earned the midfielder a salary of £6.5m a year for five years, will have increased Liverpool's optimism, especially as Gerrard was thought far more difficult to persuade than Owen.

The club's chief executive, Rick Parry, said: "I don't think what has happened can do any harm. That is our next challenge because Michael is very important to our future. We hope he will commit himself to the club and we are reasonably optimistic he will do so."

Gerrard, who had told Liverpool that there had to be significant progress or he would leave, looked emotional as he made a brief statement in Anfield's trophy room.

"The last three or four weeks have been really confusing for me," the 24-year-old said. "I have not really been happy with the progress the club has made over the last two years. For the first time in my career, I seriously thought about the possibility of leaving Liverpool. But after Euro 2004, sitting down with my family, having another meeting with Rick and spending time with my agent, I am staying at Liverpool."

Parry, who was told by Gerrard on Saturday that he would be staying, sounded pleasantly surprised by the outcome. He said: "Stevie said to me: 'I can't leave, I've been here since I was eight and I've always wanted to be captain of the club'. Never, at any point, did he mention money. It is unusual but fantastic."

Chelsea may also miss out on Deco, as the midfielder is set to choose Barcelona rather than join his former Porto coach, Jose Mourinho, in London.

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