Steven Gerrard is expected to soon sign a $5 million deal to join the Los Angeles Galaxy on an 18-month contract.
After he leaves Liverpool at the season’s end, Gerrard will move to Major League Soccer’s dominant side.
Last month’s unprecedented fifth MLS Cup was the Galaxy’s third in four seasons, and although they were not sensational in beating the New England Revolution 2-1, Gerrard was suitably impressed.
It also highlighted how well Galaxy has evolved with coach and general manager Bruce Arena under the restrictive MLS rules.
The salary cap in MLS is stringent, though it is likely to be eased by 25 percent soon.
The exceptions are the three “designated players” permitted under the so-called “Beckham rule”, who can be paid beyond the cap – and Gerrard will be one of those players.
Galaxy already have U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez and former Liverpool striker Robbie Keane – who shares the same agent as Gerrard. The third place has been vacated by Landon Donovan’s retirement.
Arena is a former USA national coach, well respected, who has had lots of success with Galaxy as well.
Gerrard’s wrench from Anfield after 26 years there will be eased by the competence of Arena and near certainty that Galaxy will be successful again when he joins them in July.
Gerrard’s decision to move to the U.S. will deprive Liverpool of its traditional home-grown core, after losing Jamie Carragher through retirement two years ago.
With the loss of Luis Suarez last summer, it means the first team is short of world class experience too.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers prides himself on promoting young talent, but accepts that his current crop cannot be as competitive against top sides.
Carragher has criticized Liverpool for not trying enough to hold on to Gerrard, perhaps by offering him a coaching position, but Rodgers denied there was no conflict. Gerrard may be 34 and past his prime, but he still loves playing, and if Rodgers was not prepared to play him as often as he wanted, then plenty of clubs at elite level are prepared to give him the chance, the midfielder reasoned.
His only caveat was that he would never play against his beloved Liverpool, so moving to another Premiership team – or even to another European side – was out of the question.
LA’s favorable climate and popular culture as well as Galaxy’s excellent set up perfectly suits the former England captain’s needs. His wife Alex and three daughters can shop till they drop while he acclimatizes. Meanwhile, Liverpool expect Raheem Sterling to sign a new five-year contract by the end of the month which will be a significant boost following Gerrard’s departure.
Sterling, 20, was initially offered a pay raise, taking him to around $100,000 a week but his representatives are holding out for around $160,000 a week. A deal for somewhere between those two figures is expected to be agreed.