First of all, how excited are you to sign this new deal?
Gareth: “It’s great to sign again. I love the club and the fans and I want to play my part in trying to get us back into the Champions League – where we belong. We’ve a good, young squad and we need to work together to get back on the biggest stage again. Hopefully we can do that.”
What persuaded you to commit yourself again? Did you need persuading?
Gareth: "We’ve a good, young squad that is still learning, everyone gets along and we’ve got the potential to challenge right at the top of the Premier League. It’s exciting times at the Club and I’m enjoying it. I don’t see any reason to leave."
You’ve clearly a lot of belief in the club.
Gareth: "I’ve been here for five years now and I’ve enjoyed every minute. The fans have been great to me and I’d love to re-pay them and do the very best for them. The club is progressing and I want to be a part of that, so it was great to get the deal done.”
Your career has been on an amazing, upward curve since you first got back into the team in January, 2010.
Gareth: "Definitely, and I don’t see any reason why that should change. I just want to keep progressing as a player and hopefully the team will continue to progress as well.”
You are now seen as one of the best players around, but where do you see yourself?
Gareth: "I don’t really look at anything like that. I just know I’m improving, I know I’m getting better and my aim is to be as good as I can be. I’m still young, 22, still learning and this is the right place for me to keep progressing as a player. This is the perfect place to do that."
Is there more to come from you?
Gareth: "Yes, definitely, there is a lot more to come. I think I know where I need to improve and hopefully you’ll see that next season.”
You had another fine season in 2011-12, and you said afterwards that you felt that you had improved further. What were those improvements?
Gareth: "Last season I was getting double and treble-marked on the wing, so I was able to come inside and score a few goals in more central areas. Now it’s a case of mixing it all up and putting my whole game together. Hopefully I’ll score more goals next season. I did quite well with my assists last season but I’d like to improve that as well. I’m looking at my all-round game, trying new things and trying to be the best player I can be.”
You managed a healthy return of nine goals in the Premier League – are you looking for more?
Gareth: "Nine was okay, but I think I could have scored a lot more and that’s one area I’m looking to improve more than anything. I think I can do that.”
What are your hopes for next season, team-wise and personally?
Gareth: "The main thing is that we qualify for the Champions League and try to replicate our form from the first half of last season, when we were right up there challenging for the title. Everyone wants that. On a personal level, I just want to improve on last season. Every player wants to do better and that’s my target.”