All of the top clubs in Europe will surely be interested in his services, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea, AC Milan, Manchester City have all gained column inches in a story that is sure to drag on throughout the World Cup and beyond.
Steven Gerrard has carried throughout his career a burning desire to win the Premier League title, the only medal missing from his collection. His flirtations with Chelsea in 2004 and 2005 stemmed from his frustration at Liverpool’s deficiencies and observing Chelsea romp to two consecutive titles. His head had most definitely been turned. Note his reasons for staying though; ‘even if it’s just to win one league title with Liverpool, it’ll mean so much more to me and my family’. Such is his connection with his hometown club that any title now won with another club, is going to be tinged with disappointment in that it was not won with Liverpool.
It appears unlikely after such a public dalliance that Gerrard will be booking a taxi to Stamford Bridge, a move that will surely anger the Liverpool fans after what has occurred previously. The reception he’s regularly received from the Chelsea fans since then has not exactly been a warm one though feelings may have cooled after his assist to Didier Drogba, which in turn helped Chelsea to seal the title over Manchester United.
With Chelsea seemingly out of the picture, where else could Gerrard go to win his craved Premier League medal. Manchester United? Definitely not. Arsenal? Trophy less for more years than Liverpool…a non-starter. Which only leaves Manchester City, though with their failure to qualify for the Champions League, their offer would not be as attractive as it might have been. Would Gerrard leave Liverpool without Champions League football to sign for Manchester City without Champions League football. Highly unlikely. Their ability within the transfer market will enable them to close the gap at the top of the Premier League, and perhaps win it in time, but there are no guarantees. Gerrard at the age of 32, cannot afford to take such a risk after the wrench of leaving Liverpool. He needs to be confident of guaranteed and immediate success. The list of Premier League teams that Gerrard would have to choose from now seems questionable, despite the title winner’s medal that one would offer.
The only option then is to look abroad. Inter Milan and AC Milan, giants of the game but ones who may struggle to convince Gerrard to make the move to Serie A, a league that no longer capture’s the world’s attention as it once did.
And so we come to..Real Madrid. The club who many label the greatest in the world, and seemingly in the midst of creating a new galactico era under Fiorentino Perez.
If Steven Gerrard wants to win the Premier League above anything else, why would he make the move to La Liga? Would winning the league in Spain mean as much to him as even winning the FA Cup with Liverpool next season?
Over the years, British players have been very reluctant to ply their trade abroad. Some have been a great success, others have failed but why has there been such a shortage? Is it because they are too comfortable in England, in what is already one of the best leagues in the world? Is it because they doubt their ability to succeed in a different environment and style of football? Or is it because they just don’t feel as strongly about it..?
The emotion and passion of the game in England is something that the players themselves become engrossed in. The competitive nature of the Premier League is something that drives the players on to succeed and bask in the glory if the team achieves. Would the repetitive struggle between Real Madrid and Barcelona truly force that drive out consistently. The widening gap between the top two in Spain and the rest is a problem. Compare that to the increasing strength of the Premier League, and the excitement that it builds and this is something that Gerrard may come to miss. Michael Owen alluded to this fact upon his return to the Premiership once his career with Real Madrid clouded over.
The change from a one-club man to playing for a team such as Real Madrid may not be one that sits too comfortably with Gerrard. The grass not always being greener may hold some relevance here.
Gerrard would be entering of team of fantastic individuals, that cannot be disputed, but Gerrard would change from the big fish to the little fish, caught in a sea of star names. No matter how much of a talented footballer he is, his game is not about the craft, skill and trickery that the Madridistas have become accustomed to and demand. Cristiano Ronaldo remains the golden boy, the one that captures the headlines and attention of the watching fans. Will the Real Madrid fans appreciate one of Gerrard’s trademark tackles as much as they would a thumping 30-yard strike? The Liverpool fans certainly do.
Gerrard would not be idolised by the fans there as he is in Liverpool, just one more player to add to an array of attacking options. The relationship he has been able to build, as a local youngster turned international star, is surely something that he treasures. This relationship will not exist in Madrid.
He will have to deal with adjusting his game at a late stage in his career in a league much less forceful and combative than our own. Gerrard doesn’t seem the type of personality that will do this with ease.
Whilst he will almost certainly be tempted to join up once more with Alonso and perhaps, at the third time of asking, Jose Mourinho, this is a hugely difficult decision for him to make.
Many, at this time, believe that the decision to leave Liverpool will be an easy one for Gerrard, exiting a failing team and able to plan his next step with all the stellar names in Europe from which to choose from. That may now appear to be not so simple.
So whilst the newspapers continue to debate where Steven Gerrard will be once the new season begins, it appears there is only one option. And that option is to remain at Liverpool Football Club.