Liverpool legend Steve Nicol has told the ESPN Soccer Today podcast that Steven Gerrard’s impending switch to the LA Galaxy is the “ideal move”.
The midfielder will head to MLS in the summer after his contract at Anfield expires, having announced earlier this month that he would end his 26-year association with his boyhood club.
Nicol is more qualified than most to speak on the subject of Gerrard’s move, having headed to the US in 1999 to join the New England Revolution, before managing the MLS club from 2002 to 2011, and he believes the Reds skipper is making the right decision.
“Up until a couple of months ago, I didn’t really see any way how Steven Gerrard could not end his career at Liverpool, and certainly not at the end of this season,” he said.
“But over the last couple of months, particularly after him talking to the papers, there seemed like there was something going on in his head.
“Now, it makes sense. He’s a guy who doesn’t want to be sitting on his backside. He’s going to be 35 in May and you don’t want to be sitting on the bench at that age.
“He’s probably realistically got another two good seasons left in him, and of course LA are going to get the benefit of that.”
Gerrard is reported to have had other options in Europe, but Nicol thinks LA offers the former England captain a much more attractive proposition than some would believe.
“I’m kind of surprised people are wondering why he’s made this move,” he continued. “There was no way he was going to play [for another club] in the Premier League or play in the Championship.
“He could have gone to Italy or Spain, where he would have fitted in great, but I think it was the attraction of LA in particular – a team that is going to win titles, with great players like Robbie Keane, and where fans will absolutely adore him.
“I think it’s the ideal move, and a place he’ll be successful and win trophies. With him and Robbie, I don’t see how many defences in MLS are going to step them.”
Nicol also suggested that escaping the media spotlight of England could have been an important factor in Gerrard’s decision to choose MLS, where he believes that the veteran midfielder will be surprised by the overall quality of football.
“Because of David Beckham coming to MLS, the perception has changed,” he added. “When I first came, people were asking me if they even played over here.
“But now, with the big crowds and big-name players, it’s a totally difference perception. It makes no difference what country you’re in – the principles of the game are the same.
“I think you don’t actually realise [the difference in pressure] until you make the move. You become so used to living under a microscope [in England] that you just go into autopilot, but it’s not until you get to the other side of the pond that you realise how much more relaxed you can be.
“Once you catch your breath and realise were you are, it’s like coming up from scuba diving. The pressure is just released.”