Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is expected to announce as early as Friday that he is leaving the English Premier League team at the end of the season. But the real surprise is where he might be headed.
According to several media reports Gerrard has been talking to the Galaxy which, after the retirement of Landon Donovan, has both the need for a playmaking midfielder and the salary space necessary to entice Gerrard.
Galaxy coach and general manager Bruce Arena, who had earlier knocked down rumors of a Gerrard move to Los Angeles, responded with a simple “no comment” Thursday when asked about possible negotiations.
Team President Chris Klein was only a little more enlightening.
“We don’t have anything yet,” he said. “We don’t comment on players that are not with our club. We’ve been pretty consistent with that all along.”
Klein did say that should Gerrard make an announcement about this future this week it will not include news of a jump to the Galaxy. But that could be coming soon.
Since August, when Donovan said this season would be his last, the Galaxy has been looking for someone who could replace the league’s all-time leading scorer both on the field and as a box-office draw. Gerrard, 34, would certainly do that.
His 114 appearances for the English national team -- which he also captains -- ranks third on the all-time list, one behind former Galaxy midfielder David Beckham. Gerrard has played in the Liverpool system since he was 8 years old, appearing in 695 matches in all competitions, scoring 180 goals and lifting 11 trophies.
He scored twice on penalty kicks Thursday in a 2-2 draw with Leicester City.
Liverpool offered Gerrard a two-year contract extension in November, but it was not accepted because it reportedly called for a 50% cut in pay. And with the start of the new year, Gerrard is now free to negotiate with any club.
Despite drawing interest within the EPL, he has said he will not stay in England to play with a team other than Liverpool.
The Galaxy, which won its fifth Major League Soccer title last month, is not Gerrard’s only suitor. MLS rival Toronto FC has also expressed interest, according to reports from England, as have deep-pocketed Middle Eastern clubs.
Under MLS payroll guidelines, each team is allowed as many as three designated players, whose salaries count only partially against the salary cap. The retirement of Donovan freed up one of those spots as well as more than $8 million in salary over the next two years.
Arena said late last year that the team would use those resources to sign a well-known player but conceded that player would have to take a cut in pay. Gerrard reportedly is making $13.2 million from Liverpool this season.
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