Social media has been alight overnight with the news that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is set to announce today that he is to leave his boyhood club at the end of the season.
Fellow players and sports commentators - as well as legions of Liverpool fans - took to twitter and to the airwaves to express their feelings at the news.
Ex-England striker Gary Lineker was among those to praise Gerrard, describing him as “One of the finest players to have graced the PL” while former Reds and England forward Peter Crouch posted similar sentiments.
The much-travelled striker, currently at Stoke, wrote: “I’ve been fortunate to have played with some top players in my time but Stevie g is easily the best I have played with.”
Seems Steven Gerrard is set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season. One of the finest players to have graced the PL. A top, top player.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 1, 2015
Robbie Savage, the former Wales and Blackburn midfielder, believes Gerrard is one of the best two players in Liverpool’s history but feels a new challenge away from Anfield is now the right move for the 34-year-old.
Speaking on BBC’s Match of the Day, Savage said: “I think he’s been Liverpool’s best-ever midfield player. I think the second-best player Liverpool’s had after Kenny Dalglish, but I think the time is right (to leave).
“He’s been a magnificent servant, one of the best Premier League players ever. I think the time’s probably right.”
Steven Gerrard is the only player to score in a FA Cup Final, League Cup Final, UEFA Cup Final and European Cup Final pic.twitter.com/0N7fmVzNL8— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) January 1, 2015
The midfielder, who will turn 35 in May, is out of contract in the summer, but, despite being offered a new deal, he appears to have decided the time is right to leave and pursue a fresh challenge.
Gerrard, who scored two penalties in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Leicester, has been free to talk to foreign clubs from January 1.
He has not yet decided on a future destination, but a move to Major League Soccer has long been rumoured and Los Angeles Galaxy are said to be interested, as are clubs in the Middle East.
If he were to announce his decision to leave in the next 24 hours, it would be a move which mirrored that of close friend Jamie Carragher, who decided to reveal he was retiring in February 2013 to avoid his on-going contract situation becoming a distraction for manager Brendan Rodgers.
Carragher wrote on Twitter on Thursday night that it was the right decision for Gerrard.
Sad day for Lfc & English football with the Gerrard news, I think it's the right decision all things considered.— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) January 1, 2015
Former Reds midfielder Terry McDermott added: “Mark my words Gerrard is the greatest player to have played for £lfc sad sad day for everyone connected with the club.
“Kenny (Dalglish) and Souey (Graeme Souness) shone in great great LFC teams...Gerrard has played in LFC teams that were at best mediocre and he carried them to trophies”.
Gerrard joined Liverpool as an eight-year-old and has made 695 appearances and scored 180 goals, winning 11 trophies with pinnacle being lifting the Champions League in 2005.
He made his first team debut in 1998 and was made captain in 2003.
Liverpool have not commented on speculation about Gerrard’s future, but it has been suggested the player himself will confirm the news today.
It seems Steven Gerrard is going to leave Liverpool. But where would he go? The FC TV team debate. http://t.co/EDB8q7lzpX— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 2, 2015