After his 18 month, fairly mixed spell in the States, Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard has announced he is leaving Los Angeles Galaxy. The news had been expected over the past few weeks but now the focus switches to the former England skippers next announcement. At 36, it still looks like Stevie could have one more big move left in his career, so where are the potential destinations?
China with its mega-finances and expanding league is one option, while a move to a different European league should not be entirely ruled out. However for now, let’s focus on three of the most likely destinations for Gerrard, at least according to the bookmakers.
Many of the bookies have Celtic heading the betting for Gerrard’s next club. The main link is obvious, Celtic gaffer Brendan Rodgers was Gerrard’s last manager at Anfield, and despite announcing his departure halfway through the 2014/15 season, the two are thought to have parted on very good terms. The appeal of Parkhead is obvious. A huge club with an incredible support base, and perhaps most importantly the chance to win trophies (even if the SPL title is realistically as good as it gets).
He would be loved by the supporters, sell a ridiculous amount of shirts, and could be given an insight on management by Rodgers, maybe even a chance to coach at one of Britain’s biggest clubs. Perhaps the most appealing prospect of moving north of the border, would be that Gerrard could still live in Britain, and yet not have to face Liverpool. Unless of course there is a freaky draw for the Champions League next season if Celtic and Liverpool have both qualified. He may have publicly said he enjoyed living in the states, but privately missing home may have been a major factor in Gerrard not extending his MLS stint. This factor will be a major part of any decision he makes. One of the main reasons he cited when moving to ‘the Galaxy’ was that he would never face his hometown club.
The downside of course is depending on the shape Gerrard is in (it seems difficult to make an assessment based on his form in the USA) he may find it either too challenging or not challenging enough. If the Steven Gerrard who was still able to dictate a lot of games in his final seasons at Liverpool shows up, he is still a very good player many clubs in Europe would love to have. That Gerrard could run SPL games almost single-handedly. Having said that Celtic already dominate most of the opposition they face domestically, particularly at Celtic Park. The early-season 5-1 demolition of Rangers suggests they should win the title fairly comfortably again this season, despite the return of the other side of the old firm. How much could Gerrard really achieve if he rocks up in January. Players who have already had a glittering career need fresh motivation, would Gerrard have this at Celtic? It’s doubtful.
On the other hand if his decline has been so extreme that he would no longer be able to physically compete in some big matches, he could find it very difficult very quickly. Gerrard would certainly not be the first iconic premier league player to move to the old firm and struggle. Roy Keane had his struggles at Celtic and retired after only six months. Scottish football gets a bad name in England, but the Old Firm derby in particular is played at a frantic pace, and Gerrard would need to adapt quickly. Some very good players have fallen apart in those games. Let’s not forget that he has also been playing since the first week of March, so fatigue could be a factor.
Celtic would seem like an odd move to some, but the Rodgers factor and the chance to be back in Britain, mean it certainly should not be ruled out at this stage.
Likeliness Rating: 8/10