Mark Schwarzer signs new Fulham contract

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The Independent Football

Mark Schwarzer today finally ended speculation about his future by signing a new two-year contract at Fulham.

Schwarzer looked certain to quit Craven Cottage after expressing a desire to join Arsenal, who had more than one bid rejected for him in the summer.

But the 38-year-old Australia goalkeeper, whose previous deal expired next summer, has now committed himself to Fulham until the end of the 2011-12 season, with his new deal containing the option of a one-year extension.

Schwarzer, who joined the Cottagers from Middlesbrough on a free transfer in the summer of 2008 and helped them reach last season's Europa League final, told his club's official website, "I'm delighted to have finally signed a contract extension with Fulham after a great deal of speculation surrounding my future in recent months.

"The club, manager and team have all highlighted their desire to see me stay at the Cottage and, after successful negotiations, I can confirm that my future is with Fulham.

"Since I joined the club in 2008, we have enjoyed a great deal of success and I believe Mark Hughes and the team will build on this success over the forthcoming seasons and continue the club's progress.

"I have enjoyed two memorable years at the club so far and I am now looking forward to many more."

Manager Mark Hughes added: "I think Mark was keeping his options open and he had every right to do that.

"But it was the case that he understood where we want to take the club.

"We are delighted as a club and, if we are to be successful in the future, we need a quality keeper, which Mark certainly is."

Hughes made resolving Schwarzer's future a priority after being appointed Fulham boss in the summer.

"It was a situation I walked into," said Hughes, confirming Arsenal's interest.

"Obviously, there was lots of talk and there had been contact, I think, between both clubs prior to myself walking through the door.

"It wasn't a situation that I wanted to develop because I've got a huge admiration for Mark and his ability as a goalkeeper.

"And if we're going to be successful in the future then we need that stability of a top-quality goalkeeper within our backline.

"So I made it really a priority to try to convince Mark that this was the right place for him."

Schwarzer made no secret of his desire to move to Arsenal, who have had problems in the goalkeeping department.

But Hughes managed to convince him he could fulfil his ambitions at Craven Cottage.

"He was obviously very flattered, I think, by the interest," Hughes said.

"But he understands what we provide here.

"In terms of the environment that's created and the amount of player care that you get here, on and off the field, I think it stands comparison to any club.

"So he knew that if he did leave here, there were a lot of things that would have to be right and correct for him to feel it was the right decision.

"We're delighted that he's decided to stay here and we can move forward now."

Schwarzer's decision is likely to end reports linking Wigan's on-loan Bolton keeper Ali Al Habsi with Fulham.

But Hughes is planning additions in the January transfer window, adding: "January is not ordinarily the best time to acquire players.

"But if we feel that it is the right acquisition and at the right level, we will try to get players in.

"We are always looking to add to the players we have."