Brendan Rodgers believes his most important signing of the summer could well be Steven Gerrard. The Reds' captain has signed a contract extension at Anfield and is now tied to his boyhood club till 2015.
"I'm absolutely delighted, as you can imagine. I've talked throughout pre-season about wanting to bring other players into the group, but this was one of - if not the - most important signings for us," Liverpool's manager told the club website.
"For myself, the supporters and his teammates, it's brilliant news. Now he can really concentrate on his football and hopefully stay at the level he's been at," the Northern Irishman continued, adding, "He's an icon here at the football club. I respect everything he's done within the game. I respect his loyalty and he respects that I am the manager of the football club and make football decisions."
The new agreement will keep Gerrard at Anfield beyond his 35th birthday and the news is significant following the retirement of Jamie Carragher earlier this summer. Gerrard and Carragher were the last of the old guard at the Merseyside club and Rodgers believes his captain's experience is vital in helping new signings settle into the club and understand the philosophy.
"I think he's still got a good few years left. His level of performance last year was outstanding. He's been a great support for me coming into such a club, a brilliant captain, he's got great values and the leadership he provides is second to none," the ex-Swansea City boss concluded.
Gerrard will start his 16th season at Liverpool in August, when they host Stoke City in the opening game of the 2013/14 Premier League campaign. The 33-year-old veteran has made over 600 appearances for the Reds since his debut in November 1998; he came off the bench to replace Vegard Heggem in the 2-0 defeat of Blackburn Rovers.
Meanwhile, Liverpool's pre-season got off to an excellent start over the weekend, with a 4-0 hammering of Preston North End at Deepdale. Goals from Iago Aspas, Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Philippe Coutinho were complemented by a clean sheet on debut for Belgian international Simon Mignolet.
Aspas and Mignolet are two of four new signings this summer, with Luis Alberto joining from Sevilla and Ivory Coast international Kolo Toure joining from Manchester City on a free transfer.