Friday 22 November 2019

Gerrard: 'I'm not going to LA Galaxy for a holiday'

Gerrard lays down a marker as he targets success after agreeing £6m deal with delighted Americans

Steven Gerrard will go back and train with Liverpool
Steven Gerrard will go back and train with Liverpool

Chris Bascombe

Steven GERRARD has signed an 18-month deal with LA Galaxy and insists that his move to the United States is not a means of easing into retirement.

His arrival at the end of this season was announced yesterday in a joint statement from the player and his next club, where he will make his debut next July at the half-way point of the Major League Soccer season.

Gerrard rejected any suggestion that he was moving to America to wind down his playing days.

"I am not going there for a holiday I - am going there to win," he said. "They told me what I wanted to hear about the winning mentality; about their aims and goals. It suits me at this stage of my career.

"I will be going there to win more medals. The location will be nice for my family so it is exciting on and off the pitch, but the most important thing is to be successful on the pitch.

"I have lived in Liverpool all my life but it is important to try new things and get new experiences. It is perfect timing for a new challenge.

"It is the right time for a new challenge and a fresh one in my life. They are the most successful side in the United States. I still feel like a player who can play for a couple more years.

"I would like to think I have the same attitude as the people who made this signing happen. They all seem like winners. I hope I can go there and play my part to bring more silverware to the team."

Gerrard follows former Liverpool team-mate Robbie Keane ,who shares the same agent, and possibly the most showbiz of all overseas exports to the United States, David Beckham, in wearing an LA Galaxy jersey.

His deal is believed to be worth around £6m until 2016 - not significantly different to what he would have been earning had he remained on Merseyside.

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Bruce Arena, the former United States national coach who has won three of the last four year MLS titles with Galaxy, said: "Steven Gerrard arrives in July and by then we will certainly have a plan available.

"He's a player of quality. I'm not concerned about how he's going to fit in. We have a club with a proven history of success. All those things go hand in hand in making LA Galaxy a very attractive team for players such as Steven Gerrard."

The club's president, Chris Klein, said: "We just started thinking in the universe of players that are out there, we want to make a decision on what signifies a Galaxy-designated player.

"When we look at that, Steven Gerrard is the perfect fit with what he brings to us on the field and the character that he has off it."

Los Angeles' A-list sports stars also welcomed Gerrard, with LA Lakers' Kobe Bryant delivering a personal message urging the Liverpool captain to "kick some ass" when he gets to "La La Land".

"I'm looking forward to getting out there and watching you do your thing," said Bryant in a video message on the club's website.

"I've been a fan of yours for a very, very long time, and your versatility, and your aggressiveness, and your leadership."

Whether Gerrard can anticipate the razzmatazz Beckham brought to the United States is a matter of debate, but he certainly adds credibility to Major League Soccer as someone many feel could still play at the highest level of the Premier League and in Europe for the next two years.

The Los Angeles Galaxy learned a valuable lesson from Gerrard's past in telling him "what he wanted to hear" in their aggressive pursuit of the midfielder.

Both Gerrard and Galaxy themselves have described the recruitment process as "aggressive", which is in stark contrast to the way Liverpool handled his contract negotiations.

The midfielder has revealed that, had the Reds offered him a new contract last summer, he would not be bringing an end an association which stretches back to when he was eight years old.

But an extension to his existing deal was not raised with the player until November - after Gerrard had expressed his surprise that no talks had been forthcoming - by which time he had already been told by Brendan Rodgers his playing time would be managed.

Such a tactic had already seen him left on the bench for Liverpool's Champions League match against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu and that, combined with the delay in negotiations, gave interested parties the encouragement they needed to make approaches.

History has shown - most pertinently in his dalliance with Chelsea in 2005 which was only averted after a last-minute intervention by then chief executive Rick Parry - Gerrard needs to feel he is wanted but the current regime, by accident or design, did not heed those lessons.

"Their (the Galaxy's) pursuing me was very aggressive," Gerrard told lagalaxy.com.

"The talks I've had with them have been very positive. They basically told me what I wanted to hear, told me about the winning mentality of the club, what their goals are for the future."

Although Gerrard is considered past his peak, he is leaving Liverpool a year younger than one of the most celebrated midfielders of recent times, Gary McAllister, who signed his two-year Anfield deal in 2000 at the age of 35.

Rodgers' weekly press conference takes place today, when he may again find questions about his next opponents - this time Sunderland - are in short supply. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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