Steven Gerrard: Liverpool captain to leave at end of season

Steven Gerrard celebrates while playing for Liverpool
Steven Gerrard has scored 180 goals for Liverpool

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Gerrard, 34, became free to sign a pre-contract agreement with an overseas team on Thursday and is believed to be wanted by clubs in the United States.

The former England skipper, who made his Liverpool debut in 1998, will not move to another English club.

Liverpool offered midfielder Gerrard a new deal in November and will make a statement on his future on Friday.

LA Galaxy president Chris Klein declined to comment on suggestions his club want to sign Gerrard, who scored two penalties in the 2-2 draw with Leicester City on New Year's Day.

Jamie Carragher, Gerrard's former Liverpool and England team-mate, tweeted: "Sad day for Liverpool and English football. I think it's the right decision, all things considered."

Match of the Day presenter and former England captain Gary Lineker tweeted:external-link "One of the finest players to have graced the Premier League. A top, top player."

Gerrard, born in the Merseyside village of Whiston, joined Liverpool's academy when he was nine years old, making his first-team debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in November 1998.

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:
"Steven Gerrard's decision will leave a hole that manager Brendan Rodgers will find incredibly difficult to fill. Gerrard remains an iconic figure, a footballer who arguably competes with Kenny Dalglish for the title of the greatest ever to wear the red shirt."
Read more from Phil McNulty

He replaced Sami Hyypia as club captain in October 2003 and led the club to the Champions League title in 2005, scoring his side's first goal as they came from three down to draw 3-3 against AC Milan and then win on penalties.

Gerrard also won the Uefa Cup, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one Community Shield and two Uefa Super Cups.

He won 114 England caps, having made his international debut in 2000, captaining his country for the first time in 2008 and leading them at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, as well as at Euro 2012.

The midfielder retired from international football after England exited the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at the group stage.

Getting better with age?
Steven Gerrard's passing accuracy in the Premier League (86%) over the past 18 months has been better than at any other stage of his career. His 13 assists last season were also a career high, while his 13 goals was bettered only by his 16-goal haul in 2008-09.

Speculation about Gerrard's long-term Liverpool future intensified following a newspaper interview in October in which he said he would join another club if he was not offered a new contract at Anfield.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said on 1 December that the midfielder had been offered a new deal, at the same time dismissing reports that the pair had fallen out.

Rodgers has said in recent weeks he wants to ration Gerrard's appearances in order to keep him fresh, leaving him on the bench for Monday's 4-1 Premier League win over Swansea.

Gerrard was restored to the starting line-up for Thursday's match against Leicester and played the full 90 minutes.

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard has played 695 times for Liverpool since making his debut against Blackburn in 1998
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool won the Uefa Cup, League Cup and FA Cup in 2001, with Gerrard among the scorers as Liverpool beat Spanish club Alaves 5-4 in the Uefa Cup final
Steven Gerrard
Gerard Houllier made Gerrard Liverpool's captain in October 2003
Steven Gerrard
And the midfielder inspired Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005
Steven Gerrard
Gerrard's unfortunate slip against Chelsea last May proved costly as Liverpool missed out on the league, the only major club honour he is missing