The unthinkable became a distinct possibility this morning as Steven Gerrard hinted at life beyond Liverpool. ‘Captain Fantastic’ has been the heartbeat of the Reds’ midfield for over ten years, with his commitment to the cause and love for the club having made him an Anfield legend. Numerous moves to Chelsea and Real Madrid were rejected, but with his contract due to expire at the end of this season, the weird image of Gerrard not in the red shirt is coming into view on the horizon.
Should almost unimaginable situation occur, what could the Kop side do? Here are FIVE answers to the Gerrard question…
Already vice-captain and a fans’ favourite, Jordan Henderson looks like he could be a ready-made replacement. At 24, the Sunderland trainee has already bounced back from set-backs in his career, with his Anfield spell having almost come to an end just over two years ago. Upon Brendan Rodgers’ arrival the England international looked likely to be shifted on after a difficult first season at Liverpool, but he opted against an exit, and has transformed himself into a key cog on Merseyside.
Such desire and commitment suggests that he has the temperament to go on and improve more, which he would to have to do be the ‘new Gerrard’. A better goalscoring and assists return would be needed, but Henderson has the talent and application.
Not really a similar style of player to Gerrard, Rabiot’s more languid, continental approach could move Liverpool in a different direction. The curly haired 19-year-old looks set to leave PSG in January for a bargain fee – around £5m – with his contract due to expire next year. The Parisians are desperate to keep the teenager, yet his desire to play regular football has swayed the youngster towards the exit door, showing his level of ambition.
With his best years firmly ahead of him and his desire clear, Rabiot could be a wise long-term investment.
This one very much falls into the ‘long-term’ category. Rossiter has already been budded the ‘new Gerrard’ by Anfield greats such as Robbier Fowler, and it’s easy to see why. His buzz-cut hair-do and Scouse scowl are reminiscent of ‘Stevie G’ when he broke through, while his playing style – full of energy and commitment – is also not dissimilar.
With the work going on with young players at Liverpool nowadays, there’s no reason the 17-year-old cannot fulfil his potential, with his technical skills, perhaps, a little more refined than Gerrard’s were at the same age.
Now this one would divide Merseyside. Barkley appears to be the closest there is to a modern day Gerrard. Mixing Scouse roots, driving desire on the pitch and the skills of a current generation attacking midfielder, the Everton ace looks likely to have a future at the very top.
Players through the years have supported the blue half of the city but played for the red (think Jamie Carragher), so it’s not completely out of the question that Barkley could move across Stanley Park to Anfield.
Valued at £40m+, the England star will not come cheap, but Liverpool could solve their midfield conundrum for the next ten years with this fella.
Like Barkley, Draxler operates in a more advanced role and is likely to cost around £40m. Also like his English counterpart, the German could be the long-term creative hub of Liverpool’s midfield, with his eye for the killer pass and ability in front of goal both key attributes.
Draxler’s inclusion in a Liverpool XI could allow for two more defensively minded players to operate in deeper roles while the now Schalke man works alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in a final third set-up full of pace an invention.