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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 16:09 UK

Benitez hails 'greatest' Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard scored both goals in Liverpool's 2-1 win in Marseille

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has hailed his captain Steven Gerrard as the best midfielder in the world.

The 28-year-old needs just one goal to reach a century of strikes for the Reds, but Benitez feels he can go on to eclipse that mark.

He said: "We are lucky to have the best midfielder in the world. He scores great goals that few others can manage.

"But he can score a lot more. Once he has scored his 100th, then we will give him the objective of maybe 150."

The influential central midfielder scored twice in Tuesday's Champions League victory in Marseille to take his tally to 99 goals.

And Benitez told the club website: "It just shows the quality and ability of Gerrard. He is a player who can play anywhere and score fantastic goals. Not just normal goals, but we are talking about fantastic goals too.

"You also have to play in a top side because at the end of the day you need to attack and create chances. It's not easy but he is still young and I think he will score a lot of goals and maybe he will have a record as a midfielder.


"If he keeps playing as well as he is then why not? And if he keeps taking the penalties it will be easier too. If he can score against Stoke I will be really pleased."

Liverpool remain unbeaten in all competitions this season, and Benitez has backed Gerrard to help the team extend that record against Stoke City on Saturday.

He said: "The way to win is to play our own football. To keep possession, keep passing and keep it on the ground.

"We must match them physically, and also make sure the technical aspects of our game and our tactics prevail.

"But we have Gerrard. His goals tally is outstanding for a midfielder who can play anywhere. There are maybe only two or three players in the world who can score the sort of strike managed in Marseille.

"He did it again today in training, so we know he can score like that again.

"He can score a lot more for us, maybe get near to doubling his current tally if he takes the penalties too!

"But to do that he must play in a good team, but it is possible he could achieve a record of goals for a midfielder."

see also
Liverpool v Stoke
19 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Marseille 1-2 Liverpool
16 Sep 08 |  Europe
England role frustrates Gerrard
07 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Liverpool 2-1 Middlesbrough
23 Aug 08 |  Premier League

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