Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard dropped to the bench yesterday at home to Stoke on the 16th anniversary of his Reds debut, coming on late before Glenn Johnson grabbed the only goal of the game.
Few stories are being written about Gerrard’s impact (he had little to do with the goal), with the focus instead on the players increasingly stark contract situation, which will only be intensified by these comments from Rodgers:
“He’s been brilliant for me here but Steven’s in a part of his career when he is not going to play every minute of every game.”
At first glance these words don’t seem particularly incendiary, but within the context of negotiations between Liverpool and Gerrard over a new contract, they’re pretty fiery.
According to the Mail Online, the 34-year-old is on £140,000 per week, while his midfield partner Jordan Henderson, a player that does and is expected to play every minute of every game, has been offered a new contract worth £80,000, which he is yet to sign.
This is serving to force the issue with Gerrard, who has performed poorly in a deep-lying midfield role, particularly since the start of this season, with former teammate and vice-captain Jamie Carragher recently insisting Liverpool lack leadership.
No figure has been guessed as to how much Liverpool might be offering their skipper, but if what the Mail believe is on the table for 24-year-old Henderson is true, then Gerrard will clearly have to swallow a substantial pay cut.
Like Frank Lampard last summer, this is the point where it becomes about longevity, with more money and gametime on offer in America and possibly Italy.
There’s a feeling that Gerrard may find the latter to his tastes; both Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo still strut their stuff in Serie A at 38 and 35.
The ball is in Gerrard’s court, and if he is given the chance to link up with a side in with a shout for the Scudetto, he’d be mad not to take it.