Jurgen Klopp has ruled out Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard returning to Anfield in a playing capacity.
[ PLAYBACK: 5 ways to save Chelsea ]
Rumors were rife on Wednesday that Gerrard could return to the Reds in a playing role as his debut season in Major League Soccer ended prematurely last Sunday when the LA Galaxy lost 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Western Conference knockout round.
Gerrard, 35, left Liverpool in May amid much fanfare as the local lad and long-time captain came through the ranks at his hometown and led them to numerous trophies during his glittering 17-year career at Anfield.
Below is the snippet posted on Liverpool’s website regarding the Gerrard rumors, as Klopp told reporters in Russia ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League clash against Rubin Kazan on Thursday that the former captain will not return to Anfield as a player.
I’m sure you would have seen some of the reports about Steven Gerrard today. I’m wondering if you could fill us in on what may or may not happen – will he come back to train with Liverpool? Could there be more for him at the club? What can you say about that?
Yes, I heard about it a few moments ago – one of your colleagues told me. I can say I have had contact with Stevie. We’ve had one phone call and a few messages. Of course, I said the door is always open. Stevie is a legend and it’s clear that is if he is here in Liverpool and is young enough and healthy enough to want to train for the next season in LA, then absolutely no problem. That’s clear, but nothing else. He didn’t ask and I don’t have to think about this. He is an LFC legend and our doors are always open.
So, there you have it. Klopp has spoken with Gerrard but that “nothing else” comment firmly ends speculation that Gerrard would be able to return in a playing capacity. Just like Thierry Henry and David Beckham did during the MLS offseason when they were in the league, Gerrard will train with Liverpool and make use of the facilities while he is back in the UK.
Could Gerrard still do a job for Liverpool? Of course he could. However, with Brendan Rodgers gone and a new backroom staff and manager trying to stamp their mark on a hungry, young squad, the last thing Klopp really needs is a reminder of the past glories of Liverpool with Gerrard returning on loan. Yes, he is a quality player but that ship has sailed. It is time for Liverpool to move on from Gerrard, the player, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean he can’t help Klopp in any way he can during his first few months at Melwood but that should be the extent of it until he hangs up his boots, which right now looks like being at the end of the 2016 MLS season, and perhaps turns to a career in coaching.
Klopp could have easily welcomed Gerrard back in on loan for a few months but you have to respect his wish to start fresh and be the top dog at Anfield.