McMONEYMAN; Steve could Kop pounds 40,000 a week.
Anfield boss Roy Evans will break the bank in a determined bid to keep one of his top stars when his contract runs out in 18 months time.
Evans wants to get McManaman around the negotiating table early in the New Year - and plans to make him an offer which, with signing-on fees and bonus, will be worth around pounds 40,000 a week.
Liverpool know they must dig deep because McManaman will be able to command a lucrative contract from top Continental clubs like Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan if he moves on for nothing under the Bosman ruling at the end of his current deal.
The Mersey club opened negotiations with the Scouse star last summer. But talks were shelved after the breakdown of a proposed pounds 12million transfer to Barcelona.
McManaman, 26 in February, is in no rush to sign a new deal.
He has indicated he is prepared to wait until the end of his contract and weigh up his options before committing himself to the most important deal of his career. But his outstanding form this
season means Liverpool dare not let the clock run down on his current contract any more.
They could lose one of their best players - and see a pounds 12m transfer fee go down the drain if he cashes in under Bosman.
Evans wants to nail down McManaman's future long before next summer's World Cup when he is likely to be included in Glenn Hoddle's squad.
Agents from all the world's top clubs will be scrutinising the players in football's biggest event. And under FIFA rules, a player is allowed to agree a conditional contract with a foreign club a year before his current deal expires.
McManaman has convinced Evans he remains a key figure in Liverpool's future by scoring a series of spectacular goals this season. He added two more in the vital win at Newcastle on Sunday and has already netted nine - just two behind his personal best for a season of 11.
But his willingness to work hard for the team and his popularity in the dressing room mean that Evans is lining up an offer he can't refuse.
Evans said: "I want to keep him here. Between now and the summer of 1999 we will do our utmost to reach an agreement and make sure Steve's long-term future is with this club.
"The good thing is he has never said he wants to go and that is important in my view."
Evans knows that if he can persuade McManaman to stay, it could influence his pals Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp to commit their long-term futures to Liverpool as well. Both have opened negotiations over new deals.
McManaman was angered earlier this month by reports that Barcelona were set to renew their interest in him.
His big ambition is to help Liverpool bring back the championship to Anfield for the first time since 1990.
Ironically, it was in December of that year that he made his Liverpool debut as an 18 year old. Since then he has clocked up 313 appearances and scored 58 goals.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Dec 30, 1997|
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