Real employ usual tactics in attempt to lure Gerrard

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The Independent Football

Steven Gerrard may have hinted that he wants to sign a new contract with Liverpool, but Real Madrid are hoping to turn the England midfielder's head and tempt him away from Anfield. The Spanish club have already begun the first step in their tried and tested tactics in order to secure the player they believe has all the credentials to become their next galactico.

Steven Gerrard may have hinted that he wants to sign a new contract with Liverpool, but Real Madrid are hoping to turn the England midfielder's head and tempt him away from Anfield. The Spanish club have already begun the first step in their tried and tested tactics in order to secure the player they believe has all the credentials to become their next galactico.

As with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham the club is using the Spanish sports press, and in particular the top-selling daily Marca, to keep Gerrard's name in the headlines in the hope that the interest will put pressure on both the player and Liverpool ahead of contract negotiations.

Photographs of the Liverpool captain have been splashed across the front page of Marca twice this week and Real's interest has occupied more column inches than any other story. The paper caught up with Gerrard on holiday in Ibiza and got him to agree to being photographed with the Real midfielder Guti, who was at the same resort. The headline read: "Are you coming?" alongside a picture of the two players shaking hands.

Gerrard, however, refused to talk about his future. "I don't know anything about any interest from Real Madrid and I prefer not to speak about it," he said.

But Guti, who has said he wants to move to England because of his lack of first-team chances, said: "I've seen the reports that Real want Gerrard. He's an excellent midfielder and has won the European Cup. He's a very complete player."

Real will offer Gerrard a salary of £4m a year and aim to exploit their links with his agents, SFX. Marca say Real have earmarked 27 June as a key date, because if Gerrard, who has two years left on his contract, has not signed a new deal by pre-season training they will make a move.

Rick Parry, Liverpool's chief executive, said: "We're not going to put a timescale on talks but, like Steve, we'd like the situation resolved sooner rather than later."

El Hadji Diouf, Liverpool's striker who spent last season on loan at Bolton, has signed a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Liverpool have cancelled pre-season friendlies in Japan in July as they clash with Champions' League qualifying matches.

l Milan last night claimed Hernan Crespo's permanent move from Chelsea will be sealed in a matter of days with the defender Kakha Kaladze moving in the opposite direction.

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