Liverpool confirm Steven Gerrard to leave the club at the end of the season

Gerrard is to leave Anfield at the end of the season after 17 years as part of the side's first team.

Liverpool have confirmed that their captain Steven Gerrard is to leave the club at the end of the season when his contract expires.

The news broke last night that he was to make an announcement today, with Gerrard ending his 17-year professional career with the club in May, and will head abroad.

Gerrard told the Liverpool website: "This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.

"I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.

"Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it's something that's in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.

"I'm going to carry on playing and although I can't confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won't be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool - that is something I could never contemplate.

"My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.

"I can't thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they've handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support.

"It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club."

The statement suggests Gerrard will be heading abroad, with the MLS mooted to be the likely destination for the Reds' skipper, who is likely to clock up 700 appearances for the Reds by the time his career comes to a close.

Manager Brendan Rodgers says the club will miss Gerrard, and will says even though the word legend is overused, Gerrard is worthy of the tag.

He said: "As a leader and as a man, he is probably incomparable to anyone I have ever worked with.

"He takes professionalism to a new level and the dedication he has to his work is an example to everyone in the game.

"He is also someone who has always put the club and team ahead of himself and I think that will ultimately be his legacy.

"People better placed than me to judge have said Steven is Liverpool's greatest ever player; when you look at the company he is in, that is some statement.

"We of course will miss him, both on the field of play and in his capacity as club captain, but his influence will live on and we wish him nothing but joy and success wherever he chooses to go next."

During his time at the club, Gerrard has won three League Cups, two FA Cups, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League, with the Premier League title the only major honour eluding the Reds' skipper.

The departure of Gerrard is likely to leave a huge void in the squad given the talismanic figure he is, as well as appointing a new captain in the summer. Jordan Henderson is currently the club's vice-captain, and is likely to be among the favourites to succeed him.

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