When Steven Gerrard signed on with the LA Galaxy and began to prepare for his move to MLS, one of the first things that came up was the possibility that he could return to Liverpool on loan during the North American league's offseason. Given his ties to the club and past precedent, it hardly seemed a stretch.
David Beckham and Thierry Henry returned to Europe on loan while under contract to MLS clubs. American star Landon Donovan spent time with Everton. Frank Lampard spent last season with Manchester City while waiting for his new MLS club to get up and running. In that light, a Gerrard return hardly seemed impossible.
"It doesn't happen as much as it used to," said MLS commissioner Don Garber, who was quick to downplay the possibility when he was asked about Gerrard returning to Liverpool. "David [Beckham] knows very well that I was really upset with the big hoopla and massive commitment we made and then he went and played in Milan.
"People in our country said, ‘What? He plays for two teams? And you're trying to build the sport?' It was a challenge to get people to understand that. It's been a couple of years, and I don't believe we are going to see many more offseason loans happening in our league, particularly at what I would call the high-level players."
Unlike European leagues, MLS take a much more hands-on approach with the clubs than would be the case in Europe. As such, if Gerrard returning to Liverpool on loan this season was in the works, it's a discussion that the league's main offices would be directly involved in. And Garber says that discussion hasn't taken place.
"I don't think so," he said when pressed about Gerrard's case in particular, adding that while it's obviously been a possibility discussed in the press, at the official levels he "had not heard that it was something that was being contemplated." Which, as the man in charge of MLS, is something he would have heard about if it was.
For those hoping for a Gerrard return to Merseyside in a few months, it's almost certainly the end of that dream. For those who had hoped that, for all he's done for the club, Liverpool could be allowed to move cleanly—or as cleanly as possible—into their post-Gerrard future, though, it's a far more positive bit of news.
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