Steven Gerrard's LA Galaxy Switch Shows MLS Still Boasts an Elite Allure

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2015

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  (EDITORS NOTE: Digital filters were used in the creation of this image.) Steven Gerrard of Liverpool prepares to take a corner during the FA Cup Third Round match between AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on January 5, 2015 in Kingston upon Thames, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It's been confirmed that Steven Gerrard will move to the LA Galaxy this summer after agreeing to join the franchise as its third designated player.

The Liverpool captain's deal at Anfield expires in June, and after already announcing that the 2014-15 campaign would be his last, the official LA Galaxy website posted footage of Gerrard talking about his move:

I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy. The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history, and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come.

My discussions with Bruce Arena (manager) and Chris Klein (president) were extremely positive, and the future of the team is very bright. I am committed to helping the LA Galaxy compete for trophies and to having an impact in Los Angeles, and I will give my all for the club.

In the meantime, I will continue to give everything for Liverpool for the remainder of this season before joining up with the Galaxy.

It's a move that shows Major League Soccer retains its ability to draw world-class players, but the issue at hand is that not enough of those stars are coming in their prime.

Samuel Luckhurst uses David Beckham's experience in the United States as a time stamp to show how little things have changed down the years, with MLS still seen as a retirement hub for ageing stars:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Natural Americans want to put a positive spin on Gerrard but eight years on from Beckham's arrival MLS still footballers' retirement home.

But why is that seen as such a stigma? Granted, those across the pond would love to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and other world icons arriving at their gates while still in their youth, but such evolution is a process that will take decades.

And speaking of Ronaldo, it's clear that even the very best see the States as an appetising venture. The Daily Mail quotes the Real Madrid star's agent, Jorge Mendes, as saying a future move of his own is on the cards:

MailOnline Sport @MailSport

Cristiano Ronaldo could head to MLS in 2018, according to his agent http://t.co/z146igwnbB

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It's important to note that Major League Soccer isn't even 20 years old yet. The division's first fixture took place in April 1996, meaning the Premier League alone—the English top tier's 1992 reincarnation—has a longer lifespan.

Just as La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga have had to, MLS must concentrate its efforts in promoting grass-roots development. With a population of well over 300 million, the talent should be there to benefit.

Jon Super/Associated Press

Gerrard had other options in front of him, too, and chose his American switch despite the fact he very well could have carried on in England or undoubtedly drawn attention from other European suitors.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo's James Pearce this week, the 34-year-old said he would have penned another Liverpool deal had the club acted more swiftly in 2014:

Yes, if a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season I would have signed it. I’d just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn’t want my club games to be tailored. My injury record had been fantastic for the past two and a half years and I had a great season from a personal point of view last season.

It’s all ifs, buts and hindsight now. That period between the summer and the end of November gave me thinking time. There’s no blame and I’m not angry about it. There are other people in the squad and the club had other things to worry about.

But Liverpool's loss is America's gain in this scenariomore specifically, a gain for Los Angeles. 

Another ageing superstar of the West Coast city, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, spoke of his joy at seeing Gerrard agree to a deal with the Galaxy, per the club's official YouTube account:

Upon reaching the conclusion of his current deal, Gerrard will have spent a remarkable 28 years with Liverpool, first joining the English giants' academy at nine years of age.

After revealing that he would depart for pastures new at the end of 2014, the 34-year-old held an emotional interview with LFC TV, looking back on what he's accomplished with the club over the past 17 years:

However, Gerrard will soon begin a new chapter in his career, joining former Liverpool team-mate Robbie Keane at LA Galaxy and hoping to bring the franchise its fourth MLS Cup in the space of five seasons.

Given his age, some will continue to criticise Major League Soccer as little more than a lucrative pension plan for those flying in, but Gerrard can prove he still has a lot to offer and make the league more entertaining than ever.

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