If anyone wants to torch my shirt, be advised that I might’ve left a Sharpie in one of the pockets.
Liverpool might’ve won the Champions League, but that apparently isn’t ambitious enough for captain Steven Gerrard writes the Guardian’s Dominic Fifield, the England midfielder being a transfer target of —-who else —- Chelsea.
Liverpool were last night preparing to receive an improved offer from Chelsea for Steven Gerrard after the club captain’s transfer request provoked a furious reaction among supporters on Merseyside.
Fans burnt a “Gerrard 17” shirt outside Anfield as tempers flared at the midfielder’s perceived betrayal. They will hardly have been appeased by a claim from the 25-year-old midfielder, who has spent 17 years with the club, that the decision to ask for a move had been “the hardest I have ever had to make”.
Chelsea will now step up their efforts to sign the player after seeing an initial £32m bid, faxed to Anfield on Monday night, swiftly rejected. The Premiership champions are expected to table an offer of about £35m in the next 24 hours. Real Madrid continue to monitor the situation but, by opening the bidding at such an elevated level, Chelsea hope to have deflected interest from the BernabÃ©u for good.
Whether an improved offer from Stamford Bridge proves more tempting to Liverpool remains to be seen, with the club suggesting that they will refuse to be rushed into parting company with the captain. Indeed they have not ruled out demanding players plus cash for Gerrard, with the former Blackburn winger Damien Duff uppermost in their thoughts.
There was frustration and no little anger on Merseyside last night, with several supporters venting their spleen. Gerrard did not return to Melwood for the second session of the day and the anger quickly swept to nearby Anfield.
“He is supposed to be a boyhood Red,” said Les Lawson, a spokesman for the Liverpool International Supporters’ Club. “Yet he has turned down £100,000 a week and I am still paying off my credit-card bill from going to Istanbul to cheer him on, as are thousands of others. He is going but he is not going with his head held high.”