Steven Gerrard has revealed that Liverpool would regularly ask him to contact some of Europe’s biggest stars to find out if they were interested in coming to play for the club.
The former Kop hero has used his new book – being serialised in The Daily Mail – to give fans a peak behind the curtain at how one of the biggest football clubs in the world works.
In the latest excerpts, Gerrards tone is one of disdain, perhaps even annoyance, at being asked to contact signing targets that he describes as a ‘long shot’.
It was the same ritual every summer. The club would let me know which long-shot target they had in mind and then ask me to contact him. They thought that a request to consider moving to Liverpool would have more impact coming from me.
In 2013, the latest player in our sights was Willian, the Brazilian midfielder. I followed the usual routine when approaching a star player we wanted to sign.
Instead of calling him directly I always sent a text. It seemed more respectful and allowed the player to read my message at a time when it suited him best. A cold call felt wrong.
I slipped into the groove with Willian. I said hello and hoped he didn’t mind me contacting him directly.
I stressed how much I admired him as a player and then, having mentioned that I knew Liverpool were speaking to his agent, I used the standard line: ‘If you need to chat or ask any questions I’m available at any time.’
Willian thanked me and he said the usual, along the lines of, ‘I’d love to play with you, Steven, blah-blah-blah, but there are other clubs who play in the Champions League I need to talk to as well.’
I knew Spurs and Chelsea were also very keen on Willian. So I answered him and said, of course, I understood. But I then went in with my sales pitch. ‘I think Liverpool would be a great move for you. The fans are amazing, the history is there and we’re building a good team. You could do something great here – and we’d love to have you.’
And Gerrard admitted he was trying to tempt player right up until his last pre-season at the club, including World Cup winner Toni Kroos, now of Real Madrid.
Our target in 2014 was ridiculously optimistic. Brendan asked me to take a crack at trying to talk Toni Kroos into signing for Liverpool. He smiled when I said we’d be p*****g into the wind with this one.
We both admired Kroos immensely. I knew Real Madrid were gearing up to make Bayern Munich an offer and so I felt a bit awkward when I texted Kroos.
The German was on his way to winning the World Cup with his country and Real were the champions of Europe. But God loves a trier, and so I gave it a whirl.
Some of the best footballers in the world can also be the most respectful. Kroos didn’t make me feel like I was a total idiot. But, of course, he would soon sign for Real Madrid. We had a nice little exchange of texts and I said well done and good luck.