Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has dropped his strongest hint yet that he is set to depart Los Angeles Galaxy. The former Reds and England captain will see his 18-month deal with the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit expire in December, and last month reignited speculation over a potential return to Anfield in a social media post that many interpreted as a goodbye message to fans.
Those rumours are once again circulating on Monday (14 November) after Gerrard, who joined ex-Liverpool teammate Robbie Keane at Galaxy in July 2015 as one of the franchise's Designated Players on a reported annual salary of $6.13m (£4.8m, €5.6m), returned to Instagram with another post that appears to suggest very strongly that he is set to bid farewell to the City of Angels.
"Special place, incredible view," he wrote next to a picture of himself against a backdrop of the impressive LA skyline. "I will miss you LA."
Exactly what Gerrard plans to do next is unclear, although earlier this year the 36-year-old was perfectly open about the fact that he would be returning home at some stage. He also claimed to be sure he would "somewhere down the line represent Liverpool Football Club" again, and Jurgen Klopp has always left the door open after allowing him to train back at Melwood during the MLS off-season in November 2015.
"Steven Gerrard is always so welcome at Liverpool FC – you can't imagine how welcome," he said in October. "But everything that we have already talked about or will speak about stays in this situation. That's how I know Stevie and that's how I am. But nobody should worry that there's no space for Steven Gerrard. Everything will be fine, 100%."
Gerrard came on as a 76th-minute substitute at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City last weekend to make what was likely his final Galaxy appearance. Bruce Arena's side were eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs courtesy of an agonising defeat to the Colorado Rapids. He netted the first spot-kick before LA, who lost the Western Conference semi-final second-leg tie 1-0 thanks to a 37-yard wondergoal from Albanian international Shkelzen Gashi, lost 3-1 on penalties.
Gerrard could now choose to hang up his boots and take up a coaching position after predicting in January that this would likely be his final campaign as a player. He said he hoped to have completed 75% of his coaching badges beforeDecember amid regrets that he did not obtain them previously and, while conceding that he had not spoken directly to Klopp, revealed that Liverpool had made him aware they were keen for him to come back, without specifying a particular role.