Steven Gerrard has been named as the new manager of Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia. The former Liverpool and England star takes over an Al Ettifaq team which finished in seventh place in the Kingdom’s 16-team league last season.
Last month, Gerrard was linked with the job, but negotiations broke down. At the time the Liverpool-born hero said: “I was invited over there to look at a potential offer, I’ve been analysing that but where I stand right now, I won’t be taking it on”.
However, he has now accepted the top job on the Saudi side and put pen to paper on a contract. No details have been shared of the length or value of the contract, but the former midfield dynamo is the latest in a long and ever-growing line of football megastars and high-profile players to either make the move to Saudi Arabia or be linked with financially tempting offers.
Gerrard could be joined in Saudi Arabia by former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, according to media reports in the UK. Videos and images shared on Al Ettifaq’s social media channels allude to Gerrard’s glittering career as one of the finest midfielders to have ever played in the English Premier League.
Despite finishing outside the top four, and not being one of the high-profile clubs to have recently been taken over by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, expectations will be high for Gerrard to take Al Ettifaq to new heights.
Such forward momentum for the club would require investment in playing talent for Gerrard to manage. With teams across the Saudi league investing in some of the biggest stars in modern football, playing squads across the Pro League are updating during the close season. For their part, Al Ettifaq has been linked with moves for former Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich star Philippe Coutinho and Wilf Zaha formerly of Crystal Palace.
Steven Gerrard played 710 games and scored 185 times for Liverpool in a trophy-filled career that also saw him captain his boyhood club. Widely regarded as one of the finest footballers of his generation, and England’s finest-ever midfielders, he is best remembered for leading Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005.
Following a short stint in America’s MLS with LA Galaxy at the end of his playing days, Steven Gerrard’s managerial career also started well. His first senior football management job saw Gerrard take Glasgow Rangers to a historic league and cup double in a season in which they went undefeated.
A spell with Aston Villa in the Premier League ended unsuccessfully and Gerrard has been without a club since October of last year. Al Ettifaq is based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia and like many teams in the Kingdom has high ambitions for the development of football in the coming years.
Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines around the world when he joined Al Nassr at the turn of the year. Since then, many of the world’s biggest stars have been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia. While prize asset, Lionel Messi, opted instead to move to Inter Miami in the MLS, top striker Karim Benzema emerged as the latest big-money player to accept an offer to play in Saudi Arabia. Benzema joined league champions Al Ittihad and more star players are expected to join over the summer.