For a few hours yesterday, the idea that Steven Gerrard could return to Liverpool as a player in January became a point of speculation in some corners of the English media. Those with ties to the club—and those with ties to his current club, LA Galaxy—quickly threw cold water on the idea.
That Liverpool by all reliable accounts weren't going to look to bring him in and LA Galaxy weren't interested in letting him go, though, wasn't enough to stop new manager Jürgen Klopp being asked about the possibility at his pre-match press conference today ahead of Liverpool's game against Rubin Kazan.
"He's a very nice guy," said Klopp when asked about the club's former captain. "He's a Liverpool legend, of course. But his contract as I know it is in the USA now. It's their break time, and I told him of course while you are here you can come and train with us whenever you want, do whatever is good for you.
"That door is always open for him, that is clear, but nothing else. Everybody can learn from Stevie, but he has a contract with the LA Galaxy. He loves this club and he is a legend and we can talk about different suff, but you think he should play for us at this moment or next year? No? So why do you ask me?"
It always seemed likeliest, that Gerrard would be invited to train with the club and nothing more, but it's still reassuring to hear it put so clearly by the manager. Gerrard is a club legend, perhaps Liverpool's greatest ever player. But saying goodbye to him was a difficult process, and the club need to move on.
The entirety of the 2014-15 season at times felt like the Steven Gerrard farewell tour. At times the need to fit him in and give him a key role in his final days at the club hurt their chances. No longer were Liverpool's efforts in the league and FA Cup about Liverpool. They were about Steven Gerrard.
This season is supposed to be about taking the next step, about moving on from the man who defined much of the past fifteen years at Anfield. Perhaps, if Gerrard is so inclined, there could one day be a place for him at the club in some capacity. But it won't be in January, and it won't be as a player.
"I'm looking forward to the time we can meet each other and talk about his ideas for the future maybe if he has some," added the manager. "Stevie is a legend. The door is always open. And if he's in Liverpool and wants to train ahead of next season in LA that's absolutely no problem, but there's nothing else."