Steven Gerrard has confirmed this week that he will be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season as a free agent.
Gerrard, who has been at the club since he was only seven years old, is Liverpool through and through. With the former England captain coming to the end of his career, he looks set to move to America to see it out in the MLS.
Gerrard’s infamous slip
Over the last year Gerrard has never been far from the headlines – pundits discussing his best position, whether or not he is still up to the level that is required at Liverpool, or that infamous slip against Chelsea are just a few examples.
During last season, Steven Gerrard looked like he was playing some of the best football of his career, adopting a deeper position in Brendan Rodgers’ midfield diamond, which resulted in Liverpool playing very attacking, free-flowing and free-scoring football. This improvement provided Gerrard with the drama of a serious title race with his boyhood club.
Despite captaining his club and country and winning the Champions League during his prolific career, one of his most defining moments as a footballer was yet to come. As Liverpool faced Chelsea in what was a massive game for the race to the title, it was Gerrard’s slip on the half-way line that gifted Chelsea all three points and effectively handed the title to Manchester City.
Gerrard’s contribution over the years at Anfield has been massive, without a doubt. Even at the age of 34, he is currently the club’s top goalscorer so far this season. Many have called for Gerrard to stay on at Liverpool for another year, as it is clear to see he is more than capable of doing so. Yet, it looks inevitable that Gerrard will play his football elsewhere next season. Although, I believe that if the title race last season had gone differently, Gerrard would have seen out his career at Anfield.
Loss of a key figure
In my opinion, with Gerrard gone, Liverpool will lack identity. There will no longer be such a key figure in the midfield, leaving a gaping hole that will need to be filled, similar to the one left by Jamie Carragher’s retirement.
You only have to look around the Premier League to see that big clubs need a key man. Manchester United have Wayne Rooney, Chelsea have John Terry, and City have Vincent Kompany. Liverpool, on the other hand, will no longer have a player that is truly Liverpool through-and-through, which will surely see Liverpool lose some of their fear factor, too.
Current vice-captain Jordan Henderson looks set to be the player to take over Gerrard’s role as captain. I believe Henderson will have a big role to play, with immense pressure likely to be placed on him to fill the hole left by Gerrard, for both club and country.
It’s inevitable in football that teams and players must eventually move on. Many have suggested that Liverpool will need to spend big to replace Gerrard, which I have to agree with. I don’t believe Liverpool will come as close to clinching the title as they did last season for many years to come, as with Gerrard’s departure and the host of new signings, it is clear to see that the club is going through a transitional phase.
Despite the loss of Gerrard, Liverpool still have young, exciting players like Coutinho and Raheem Sterling to look to – just two of a host of names with the potential to become the future of the club. Big name signings could be a possibility, just to increase the morale around Anfield, but players like Sterling and Henderson will really need to step up to the plate from here on it, as they are the sort of players with the heart and passion to drive Liverpool forward in the future.