Steven Gerrard has decided not to sign a contract extension with Liverpool and is set to announce he will be leaving his boyhood club at the end of this season.
Liverpool’s captain of the past 11 years is expected to confirm on Friday that his glittering 17-year career at Anfield will finish when his current contract expires this summer.
Gerrard was offered a new deal by the club in November but, having weighed up the prospect of reduced playing time for Brendan Rodgers’ team next season against the lure of a move abroad, has
opted for a fresh experience in the twilight of his career.
Gerrard has not agreed a pre-contract deal with another club and remains open-minded about his next destination but is believed to be considering several offers from MLS.
LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls are understood to be keen on the 34-year-old, as are several clubs in the Middle East, and the former England captain is leaning towards taking his young family to the United States.
He is set to release a statement confirming his intentions to avoid becoming a distraction for Rodgers and Liverpool for the remainder of the season.
Rodgers has previously stated that Gerrard’s reluctance to sign a new deal
at Anfield was not down to money but “a life decision”.
The midfielder has had to adjust to being rested for the first time in his career this season notably at Real Madrid in the Champions League and more recently against Swansea City in the Premier League on Monday while his performances have come under severe scrutiny during Liverpool’s difficult campaign.
His importance continues to be demonstrated, however, with Gerrard almost inspiring another Champions League rescue act against Basel last month and scoring two penalties in Liverpool’s disappointing 2-2 draw at
home to Leicester City on New Year’s Day.
Gerrard has come close to leaving his hometown team twice before, for Chelsea in 2004 and 2005, and has previously rejected offers from the likes of Bayern Munich to remain at Anfield. But he appears set on moving on this summer and became free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from 1 January. Gerrard will not consider joining another English club out of respect for Liverpool.
While the captain’s decision may not register as a huge surprise given his
position and Liverpool’s season, it equates to a major setback for Rodgers
who had championed a new contract for Gerrard and was keen for the midfielder to remain part of his first-team plans.
The manager has also raised the prospect of a coaching role for Gerrard but that plan must now be postponed for the foreseeable future.
Gerrard has developed into Liverpool’s figurehead for the best part of his eventful career, scoring 180 goals in 695 appearances for the club and winning 11 trophies.
He is the only player to score in a Champions League final, a Uefa Cup final, an FA Cup final and a League Cup final. He will be synonymous for, among other achievements, inspiring Liverpool’s
remarkable fightback from three goals down to beat Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.
The midfielder’s decision raises questions over why Liverpool delayed until November to offer him a new contract and will mean the club has lost its two most recognisable talents, Luis Suárez and Gerrard, in successive summers.
Gerrard is determined to end on a high a Liverpool career that has brought every major honour with the glaring exception of the Premier League title, with more silverware Rodgers’ team face Chelsea in the Capital One Cup semi-finals later this month and a top-four finish his priorities before he departs.
Gerrard, Liverpool’s record goalscorer in European football, does not want his Anfield career to peter out and despite admitting to being a home bird on several occasions, is keen to experience a different culture away from the goldfish bowl of Merseyside. MLS appears most likely to benefit from Liverpool’s loss.
Culled From: THE GUARDIAN SPORTS