The legendary Reds midfielder has confirmed his intention to leave for Major League Soccer in the summer and the manager is keen to maintain the Merseyside core of his team
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is on the lookout for local talent following Steven Gerrard’s announcement that he will leave at the end of the season.
Gerrard’s departure follows that of fellow hometown hero Jamie Carragher, who retired in 2013, and sees the Reds’ contingent of locally sourced players dwindle further.
Rickie Lambert and Jon Flanagan are left to fly the flag for Merseyside at Anfield, while youngsters such as 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter, who made his senior debut against Middlesbrough in the League Cup earlier this season, attempt to force their way into the first team and Rodgers believes that it is important to nurture local players.
“Not too many managers get to manage this kind of situation [Carragher and Gerrard leaving],” he told reporters. “It’s about finding the next one.
“That’s what happens in football. You have to find the next one. There’s a focus at finding the next one on our own doorstep. We want to find talent, of which I believe there is plenty, on Merseyside and in and around Liverpool.
“It’s nigh on impossible to find a replacement for Steven of that stature and quality. He is unique in his play and behaviour. You can’t find a direct replacement but, for us, it will always be about the team. We’re renowned for having top-class players.”
On Gerrard’s decision to end his 17-year Liverpool career, Rodgers added: “We had a chat a few days before the announcement so I’ve been fully aware all the way along.
“Steven deserved the time to make his decision. The decision is purely for him and his family. He will always be an iconic figure here.
“He sees himself going on to play a couple more years. Naturally it would have been tapered a bit in the next few years [at Liverpool]. He knew my feeling on wanting him to be here. He wasn’t ready to move into coaching; he still sees himself very much as a player.”
Gerrard has confirmed that he will move to Major League Soccer in the summer but Rodgers insists that he has not given a potential loan back to Anfield a moment’s thought.
“He’s still a player here now for this season,” the manager stressed. “I’m not thinking beyond that.”