The curtain is coming down on the Liverpool career of Steven Gerrard after seventeen years at the club. He has just two further matches remaining, making his final appearance in front of the Kop against Crystal Palace on Saturday before the season ends at Stoke City on May 24th.
Gerrard is set to play Major League Soccer with Los Angeles Galaxy next season. At the age of 34, Liverpool have decided that they can afford to release the former England Captain as they look to rebuild after a disappointing season.
Last year, Liverpool looked set to provide Gerrard with a coveted League title before faltering against Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Their hopes of competing at the top this season took a double blow with the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and a long-term injury to Daniel Sturridge. Despite investing heavily in the summer, their Champions League campaign ended at the Group stage and they were soon well off the pace in the Premiership.
A mid-season rally briefly looked like securing a return to the top European stage but those hopes all but ended in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. It was fitting that their equalizing goal came from Gerrard who would receive a standing ovation when he was substituted late on in the match.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho revealed prior to the match that he had tried to sign Gerrard on three separate occasions. The Liverpool skipper admitted that he had been sorely tempted but, after discussions with his family, could not tear himself away from Merseyside. Ironically, Mourinho released Frank Lampard in very similar circumstances last summer, a move which looked like back-firing when the Chelsea legend returned in a Manchester City shirt.
An inter-club agreement permitted City to take Lampard on loan and his contributions, including an equalizer at Stamford Bridge, kept the 2013-14 champions snapping at Chelsea?s heels in the early part of the season. A return to the Premier League does not look likely for Gerrard, at least not as a player. His loyalty to Liverpool will surely be repaid at some point in the future with a role within the club, whether it be as a coach or in some other capacity.
In the meantime, Brendan Rodgers will look to rebuild a side in his absence with Jordan Henderson seen as his natural successor. He has enjoyed a terrific couple of seasons at Anfield but has yet to show that he can be a strong team leader. Gerrard has certainly been that for Liverpool and he will be treated to a hero?s send-off at Anfield on Saturday.