The Los Angeles Galaxy are replacing the U.S.’s greatest male soccer player ever with one of European football’s biggest stars.
Steven Gerrard confirmed Saturday that he will leave legendary club Liverpool after the English Premier League season to “play in America.” But the mystery of Gerrard’s next stop did not last long as ESPN FC reported that Gerrard will join the Galaxy, the champions of Major League Soccer, on an 18-month contract this summer. The Washington Post revealed that the pro-rated deal will be worth $6 million a year, making Gerrard one of the highest-paid players in MLS.
The 34-year-old Gerrard will fill the void left by Donovan, who retired last month as MLS’s all-time leading scorer after helping L.A. beat the New England Revolution for its record fifth MLS Cup last month. Coach Bruce Arena should have no problem finding a place for Gerrard in the Galaxy lineup, which already features a solid central midfield tandem in Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas but will need Gerrard’s offensive skills to make up for Donovan’s absence.
Gerrard has embodied the pride and spirit of Liverpool for 16 years, first joining the club at age 8 and making his senior team debut as an 18-year-old in 1998. He helped the Reds win 11 trophies with his career-defining moment coming in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final, when he scored to spark an incredible second-half comeback from a 3-0 deficit and then beat AC Milan in a penalty shootout to capture the club’s fifth European championship.
The addition of Gerrard continues the Galaxy’s string of superstar imports from England. MLS’s marquee club wooed former Manchester United star David Beckham to L.A. in 2007 and welcomed Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane in 2011. Keane, the reigning MVP of MLS, played with Gerrard at Liverpool during the 2008-09 season.
The New York Red Bulls and expansion franchise New York City FC were also rumored to be in the running for Gerrard. The Red Bulls are looking for another big name to replace the retired Thierry Henry, while NYCFC is dealing with the backlash of Frank Lampard’s delayed arrival to MLS due to parent club Manchester City’s decision to extend the 36-year-old midfielder’s loan to aid the Premier League champion’s bid for a title repeat.