Liverpool are poised to open contract talks with Michael Owen - but the England striker is unlikely to make a quick decision on his Anfield future.
Boss Gerard Houllier is desperate to keep Owen at Anfield after he underlined his importance to Liverpool once more with two goals in the 3-0 Merseyside derby win at Everton.
And Owen - who has 22 months left on his current £60,000-a-week deal - confirmed that talks are scheduled with the Liverpool board.
He said: "The club has indicated they are ready to talk. We haven't set a date yet, but I am sure we will discuss things soon."
It is understood talks will begin shortly before Christmas - but the indications are that there will be no swift conclusion.
Owen has hinted he wants positive proof that Liverpool will be genuine title contenders before he commits himself to another long-term contract.
Liverpool's failure to qualify for the Champions League this season left Owen bitterly disappointed and admitting he feared time was running out to claim the game's top honours.
There have also been suggestions that Liverpool's perceived defensive style left him starved of service.
And he said: "You are only as good as the service you get. All strikers need chances and it had been hard not having a single sight of goal in those opening games."