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Britain might have thought they’d seen the last of Steven Gerrard when he jetted off to the sunshine of Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of David Beckham and Robbie Keane as a Premier League star ending his playing career with LA Galaxy.
However, as the former Liverpool captain calls time on his spell in the MLS, he’s been strongly linked with a return to these shores, and a reunion with former manager Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.
Gerrard has said previously that he’ll look to make the move into coaching when he finally hangs up his boots, but the 36-year old has indicated that if there’s still an opportunity to play he’d take it, and according to the bookies (11/10 with Sky Bet at the time of writing) Parkhead is his most likely destination.
The move is currently at 3.5 on the Whisper Index, and the speculation was fuelled by an interview former Hoops defender Andy Lynch gave to the Daily Record in which he claimed Gerrard was ‘a real Celtic man.’
“I don’t think it’s outrageous at all, or just another rumour. I think it could be very probable to see Steven Gerrard at Celtic,” said Lynch.
“The decisive factor could be that he is a real Celtic man. That took me by surprise when I met him at half-time during a Liverpool game at Stoke.
“It was him who brought up the subject of Celtic and you could see he was pretty excited talking about it. He said ‘that’s my team, that’s who I support.’”
During his 18-month spell with the Galaxy in which he clocked 33 appearances, Gerrard scored four goals, provided 13 assists and created 58 chances, which suggests the former England star is still capable of offering plenty of value to the Scottish champions.
However, considering Celtic have already built up a ten-point lead over second place Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership — not to mention a goal difference of +26 compared with their nearest rival’s +8 — you could argue a January switch would make more sense for the player than the club, especially if, as predicted, they’re knocked out of Europe in the next couple of weeks.
They’re not out of the running for a third-place finish in their Champions’ League group which would yield a Europa League spot, however with an away trip to Manchester City and the visit of Barcelona to come, you wouldn’t back them to add to their two point tally.
If Gerrard signs on an 18-month deal though, as he did with Galaxy, his experience could be the difference between a more successful European campaign and an early exit next season, as well as a boost in their efforts to maintain their dominance over Scottish domestic football.
It might be the chance to take advantage of his old captain’s winning mentality in a future coaching role that interests Rodgers the most, with any goals and assists he can chip in simply a bonus.
However, Rodgers is not the only one of Gerrard’s former managers who covets the midfielder.
Sky Bet currently have Stevie-G linking up with old boss Rafa Benitez at Newcastle at 9/2, although considering he’s thought to have privately ruled out ever playing against his beloved Liverpool (something you’d expect the Magpies to be doing next season), this looks like an outside bet. You can get 7/2 on the Anfield legend rejoining his old club, but this feels somewhat unlikely considering he was only shipped out a year and a half ago by Jurgen Klopp — unless the German sees value in recruiting Gerrard to a coaching role as some recent reports have suggested.
It seems as though there are more reasons to think the Celtic move will happen rather than not — the player’s previous relationship with the manager, his alleged affinity with the club, the chance to add a title winner’s medal to his mantelpiece and an opportunity to dine at Europe’s top table again — but, for now, this is a whisper to keep an eye on.