A Hollywood ending for Steven Gerrard’s storied career seemed all but set Tuesday, with the Liverpool captain’s move to the Los Angeles Galaxy widely reported to be an all-but-done deal.
The Galaxy emerged as the front-runner for Gerrard’s services almost as soon as the 34-year-old confirmed that he would be heading to America when he leaves Liverpool at the end of the English Premiership season.
Gerrard will be ending a 25-year association with Liverpool.
Although details of a deal with the Galaxy reported by media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic differ slightly, most predict an 18-month contract.
A BBC report, which did not cite any sources, said the former England captain would sign a contract worth some £6 million ($9.1 million, 7.6 million euros) with the Galaxy.
The Guardian reported that Gerrard would likely receive a basic salary of £4 million with merchandising rights raising the figure.
ESPN and the Washington Post had reported at the weekend that such a deal was in the works, even as MLS and Galaxy officials declined to comment.
A move to the Galaxy would reunite Gerrard with his old Liverpool team-mate Robbie Keane and see him follow in the footsteps of former England colleague David Beckham, who spent five years at the California club.
The Galaxy won their fifth MLS title in December, and have a vacancy to fill thanks to the retirement of longtime star Landon Donovan.
Donovan’s departure left the Galaxy with a vacant designated player berth, which they can use to ink high-priced stars with relief from salary cap constraints.
Other MLS clubs with designated player spots available include New York Red Bulls, with the departure of France’s Thierry Henry, and Orlando City, who have signed Brazilian star Kaka and Honduran striker Bryan Rochez for their inaugural season but haven’t filled their third designated player spot.
A report in the Daily Telegraph that the New York Cosmos were interested in Gerrard seems nothing more than a red-herring.
The Cosmos are a glamorous name in US football thanks to their heyday in the 1970s, when they lured such global icons as Pele.
But the North American Soccer League in which they operate is a second-tier league.
Such a move by a player of Gerrard’s stature would certainly be a slap in the face to MLS, already stung by the decision of Manchester City owners to keep Frank Lampard in England until May rather than having him arrive for duty with MLS’s New York City FC for it’s first season starting in March.
Manchester City are part-owners of NYCFC and the move was widely interpreted as a sign that their fledgling MLS venture is a low priority.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Sports Illustrated that NYCFC will need to work to rebuild trust with New York Sports Fans who were expecting Lampard to play the full season.
But he noted that it’s nothing new for European stars coming into MLS to make their debuts in mid-season — as Gerrard will do and as Beckham, Keane and Henry did before him.