Houllier expects Liverpool legend Gerrard to become a 'great manager'

Steven Gerrard In 2014

The manager that gave Steven Gerrard his Liverpool debut claims the exiting midfielder will return to Anfield one day and has all the tools to be the boss.

Saturday sees Steven Gerrard make his final Anfield appearance ahead of his summer move to MLS and a contract with LA Galaxy. After 705 appearances and 184 goals it will be an emotional occasion, but the manager that first gave Gerrard a senior shirt in 1998, and made him captain in 2003, thinks Liverpool fans have not seen the last of the buccaneering midfielder.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Houllier said: "The MLS is very lucky to get him. He will be extremely successful there. He will come back to Liverpool in some capacity, I'm sure he will. Maybe not in the coming years but sooner or later he will come back."

As Liverpool boss between 1998 and 2004, Houllier claims he built up a "special" relationship with Gerrard, and it is that inside knowledge that leads the Frenchman to believe Gerrard has the right temperament to become a manager in the future: "He will make a great manager because he has always put the team first. He has got everything it takes to think about the team, the club and the development of others. He is a natural born leader, a very inspirational leader. He is somebody you want to follow."

Tickets for Saturday's Premier League game versus Crystal Palace are exchanging hands at astronomical rates as fans clamour to see the last home appearance of Gerrard in a Liverpool shirt. But Houllier feels that both Liverpool and Gerrard have been a little premature in calling time on his 17-year career at Anfield.

Houllier added: "I don't think he wanted to show the fans his decline. I personally think he could play in a different role, a bit like Andrea Pirlo, in front of the defence like an anchorman. Maybe he wanted to have a new challenge and that's typical of Stevie."

Gerrard will link up with his new employers in July, with an 18-month contract awaiting him in California - per the Guardian.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch