Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has reaffirmed his desire to keep captain Steven Gerrard at the club, claiming that the England midfielder is happy to stay.

Liverpool are set to open contract talks with the 25-year-old and manager Benitez told Spanish newspaper Diario AS: “I am not in favour of selling him.

“We’re building a great team around him as we want him to be the skipper who wins the most titles in our history.

“I know he feels the same way because we have already talked about it.”

Gerrard has been linked with moves to Chelsea and Real Madrid, although Benitez remains confident he will stay.

“We are preparing a special weightlifting plan for Gerrard’s shoulders because we want him to lift a lot of trophies for us in the next few years,” he joked.

“Gerrard is a vital player for us and that is why we have not considered selling him.

“He had important offers last year but I wanted him to stay with Liverpool and he stayed with us – that was rewarded with us winning a big competition and it is our wish to carry on the same road with him.”