Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is to open talks today about a new long-term Anfield contract.

Gerrard has been linked with a move away from Anfield witgh Chelsea and Real Madrid reported to be interested in signing him.

Gerrard’s agent, Struan Marshall, is scheduled to meet Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry in a bid to finally secure a new deal.

Gerrard’s current contract at Liverpool expires in June 2007 and he is expected to be offered an increased off er which will take his wages up to £80,000-a-week.

Manager Rafael Benitez sees Gerrard as the man around whom he can build a team, although he is aware that his captain may be tempted by a move elsewhere.

Gerrard was poised to complete a £31m move to Chelsea last summer before a last minute change of heart persuaded him to stay.

Liverpool are also set to open negotiations with the Dutch international Boudewijn Zenden when his contract with Middlesbrough expires at the end of the week.

Zenden will be available on a free transfer and the lure of Champions League football means that Liverpool are in pole position to sign him.

“Money is not an issue for Boudewijn,” said Pierre Zenden, the player’s father who acts as his agent.

“Where the club stands in terms of the Champions League or the Uefa Cup is really important.

“Boudewijn has had a great time at Middlesbrough. He had a wonderful season last year and the fans, his fellow players and the coach Steve McClaren have been great – he loves them all and would like to continue there but we don’t know what will happen.

“He is a free agent on Friday but we expect to be able to announce something early next week.”