5 Contenders to Replace Steven Gerrard at Liverpool
Steven Gerrard's clock is ticking down at Anfield with his time on Merseyside set to end this summer with his departure for the LA Galaxy.
Liverpool has begun in earnest the search for their talismanic captain successor. It is a thankless task given the size and depth of the boots his replacement has to fill, but who could realistically be in Gerrard's stead come next term?
Here are five potential candidates..
1. Yohan Cabaye
No stranger to the Premier League, Yohan Cabaye has had an unsettled time since moving to Paris Saint Germain almost a year ago and recently there have been murmurings of the Frenchman's return to Newcastle. Cabaye is one of the best passers in the game and as such fits the Gerrard bill. But also his contribution and distribution as a whole is exemplary, even if his stereotypical Gallic temperament needs dialing down.
Cabaye could play in a deeper role as he did for Lille or further up the pitch. At St. James' Park, Cabaye amassed 17 goals in 79 appearances and despite lacking the presence in stature of Gerrard, the 28 year-old arguably has his best years ahead of him. If the dynamic midfielder is being linked with a move back to Tyneside, then surely Anfield is a greater lure?
2. Daniele de Rossi
De Rossi, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, has three years on Cabaye but infinitely more experience as well as a real technician.
Primarily a defensive midfielder, the 31 year-old Roma stalwart has spent 13 seasons at Stadio Olimpico and has been touted to move on to pastures new of late. The main factor that may aide The Reds in the pursuit of De Rossi, is that the Italian has in the past stated that Gerrard was his idol throughout his career, saying; 'I would love to be close to that level'.
The question De Rossi has to ask is what level LIverpool would be to him? Also, would the offer of stepping into his idol's boots be too good of an offer to resist?
3. Xabi Alonso
Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso is perhaps an unlikely figure, but given his five years at Anfield - alongside Gerrard - it isn't too wide of the mark to suggest a return for the 33 year-old Spaniard.
Now in Germany, largely due to Pep Guardiola's insistence, Alonso is the guardian of the back four but also the glue that holds together the passage of defence into attack. With Bayern's turnover of players in the last few years, could Karl-Heinz Rummenigge be convinced by the Liverpool hierarchy to let him return to Merseyside. If indeed he wants to.
LIverpool have missed a combative element to their game for a season or more now, especially in the light of Gerrard's career winding down. Atletico Madrid's Gabi would give them just that.
At 31, like De Rossi, Gabi has spent three seasons at Vicente Calderon and played a big part in Los Coloncheros regaining the La Liga crown from their more illustrious city rivals Real Madrid and the dominant Barcelona.
Gabi is a much underrated bow to Atleti's bow and is renowned for his succesful tackle percentage. With The Reds precedent of Spanish personnel, Gabi could be the one to replace the Kop legend.
5. Ilkay Gundogan
Finally, there is Ilkay Gundogan. Gundogan, another of the German born players of Turkish descent, has suffered with injuries of late but prior to his spells in and out of the treatment room, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder was a key member of the back-to-back Bundesliga champions.
Gundogan is almost certainly in his last season at Signal Iduna Park and depending on which sources you believe, Liverpool may have to act fast as Arsenal appear to be at the front of the queue for the player's services and are negotiating a move for the player this January.
Gundogan has been the engine room of Dortmund whenever he plays, and like Gerrard, has the capacity to be the deeper lying midfielder that still gets up the pitch and also takes a mean penalty.
He ticks all the boxes despite his 5'11 height but as documented if they are to get their man, LIverpool will need to act quickly.