by Dave Usher for ESPN
There has not been a great deal for Liverpool fans to smile about of late, but at least there has been some welcome news on the contract front this week. On Thursday, Jordan Henderson signed a new deal, with Jordon Ibe expected to soon follow suit, while Martin Skrtel announced earlier this week that he has no intention of leaving Anfield and expects to agree an extension this summer. All that remains now is for Raheem Sterling to grab a pen and join the party.
Henderson committing himself was important for the club as he's become a key player over the last couple of seasons and is the most likely to inherit the captaincy (albeit almost by default) when Steven Gerrard departs for the MLS this summer. The likeable former Sunderland man is a fine example of what can be achieved through hard work, a willingness to learn and a refusal to throw in the towel.
It's well documented that he could have left Anfield soon after Brendan Rodgers took charge in 2012, but he backed his own ability and chose to stay and fight for his place. It took a little while for him to win Rodgers over but by the turn of that year he had forced his way ahead of the competition to claim a regular place in the first XI.
He's been there ever since and has even captained the side on numerous occasions this season in the absence of Gerrard. Supporters will be happy to see him committing his future to the club, even if the reported £100,000-a-week salary still seems overly generous in the eyes of many. It's all relative these days though, and while in theory the 24-year-old Henderson is probably not yet deserving of that kind of contract, there are lesser players than him earning higher amounts throughout the Premier League.
But Henderson has made great strides over the past two or three years. He's still relatively young and his desire to improve and professional attitude suggest he will only get better.
How much better may depend on the kind of player he is surrounded with. There is no doubt that Henderson can play an important role in Liverpool's midfield for years to come, but he is not a player that you build your midfield around. One of the many tasks for Liverpool this summer is to find that dominant midfield man who would allow Henderson to take his game to even greater heights.
Read the rest of the article here.