Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has told Eurosport that he will not be making a loan return to Europe in January as he needs time to rest before the LA Galaxy’s preparations for their 2016 campaign begin.
Gerrard, 35, joined the Galaxy after his contract at Liverpool expired in July but his first season in MLS came to a disappointing end last month when the club suffered a 3-2 playoff defeat at the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Knockout Round.
The veteran midfielder has since been linked with a short-term move back to Anfield during the MLS offseason [h/t The Independent], and new manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed reports earlier this month that the pair have spoken since he replaced Brendan Rodgers at the helm in early October.
However, while the German left the door open to a potential training stint, he also stressed that “nothing else” has been discussed during their conversations, and Gerrard himself has now confirmed that a possible playing return is not on the table.
Former Galaxy star and ex-England teammate David Beckham infamously had two loan spells at AC Milan in 2009 and 2010 – much to the chagrin of LA fans – in order to keep himself in the Three Lions picture, but the Red legend’s retirement from international football following the 2014 World Cup means his sole focus is on his MLS career at this point.
"I've retired from the national team so I don't have to go and prove myself in Europe," said Gerrard. "I need to get some rest because I've got a very long season ahead next year, so it's very important I come back strong, rested and ready to go again."
Gerrard largely disappointed during his first few months at the Galaxy, as he recorded just two goals and three assists in 14 league games over the second half of the 2015 campaign as the club’s bid for a fourth MLS Cup title in five seasons came up short.
The former England skipper looked sluggish at times and was criticised for his defensive work, and he admits that he underestimated the level of competition before his arrival.
“It’s a lot better than what I initially thought," he told Eurosport. "A lot of people talk about MLS and the level, and for me, a lot of them are wrong. It’s not until you come here and sample it yourself that see how strong it is and how fit and professional the players are.
“Every single game’s a different challenge – certainly on the road. You come up against places and teams where it’s very, very hot and humid, and some teams play on turf, so each game is tricky.”
Nevertheless, a proper offseason of rest – something which he has not had since 2013 due to the 2014 World Cup – should see Gerrard better prepared for his first full campaign at the StubHub Center, when he will be aiming to pick up his first-ever league title after a series of near misses at Liverpool.
"I think it’d be fantastic to win the league over here but it certainly wouldn’t make amends for finishing second three times,” he added. "They were very frustrating and disappointing moments and experiences I’ll never forget. But certainly the plan and the target for me, and the dream, is to try and become champion in the USA.”