Kean hails Samba's contract boost for Rovers

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The Independent Football

Blackburn captain Christopher Samba has committed his future to the club by signing a new contract which will keep him at Ewood Park until the summer of 2015.

There had been speculation about the centre-back after he suggested to the French press last month that he was looking to move. However, Samba has ended any doubts by agreeing an extension to his current deal.

"This is more great news for us," Rovers manager Steve Kean said. "Chris is a major part of the picture at Rovers and his form has created a lot of interest from around the football world. The fact that he wants to be part of what we are trying to build here is further evidence of the exciting times that lie ahead."

Samba has followed Ryan Nelsen, from whom he took over the armband this season, Michel Salgado and Jason Roberts in agreeing extended contracts with the club. "It is a good feeling. We have been in discussions for a little time and I needed a couple of answers," the defender said.

"But the way we have played and the players the manager has brought in means we are not far off being a top club in the league.

"I'm in a period of my career where I need to make important choices. I've made the choice to take the challenge to try and take the club as high as possible, to maintain that position and to be recognised as one of the top clubs in the country."

Jason Roberts believes the remarkable turnaround in his fortunes at Blackburn is a reward for his determination to prove former manager Sam Allardyce wrong. At the start of the season the 33-year-old striker did not even have a squad number as Allardyce tried to offload him, but he forced his way back into the team and has been rewarded with a improved contract by Kean.

Roberts said: "At the start of the season I was told I would never play for this club again and within six or seven games I was in there scoring winning goals. You have to remain focused on your ability and what you can do. The new manager has shown a lot of faith in me. Lots of things are changing and happening and there are exciting times ahead."

Roberts now faces competition from two young forwards signed on Monday, the 22-year-old Argentine Mauro Formica and the 19-year-old Spanish striker Ruben Rochin. Kean claims that in Formica he has bought a player in the style of the legendary Gabriel Batistuta.

He also revealed he got Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz to persuade the young Argentine to choose the Lancashire town over the bright lights of Monaco. Kean said: "I've seen him a number of times and he reminds me of a young Batistuta. He twists, he turns, he can score with left foot, his right foot, he can play as a main striker or even wide or in the hole. He's probably the most exciting, and one of the best, young players in Argentina."