Steven Gerrard tried to help Liverpool sign Toni Kroos and Willian
LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard has revealed he used to try to help his former club Liverpool sign players, including Toni Kroos and Willian, by sending them text messages.
Ex-Liverpool captain Gerrard, 35, said in his book "My Story," serialised in the Daily Mail, that the club would let him know of their star target for the summer and he would subsequently contact them.
Willian, who signed for Chelsea from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, and Kroos, who left Bayern Munich for Real Madrid in 2014, were among the players Gerrard approach about a switch to Anfield.
He said: "I had an unofficial role at the club, trying to persuade some great players to join Liverpool. 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.
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"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.'
"It was the opening move in a familiar game. The reply came in and the same old conversation started. 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.'
"I meant it, too, because the club only asked for my help if it was with a player I rated. But I always tried to persuade with honesty and respect and never mentioned anything about the player's financial situation or the contract he could expect from Liverpool.
"The next text from Willian was so obvious I could have written it for him even before I read it. He again said that it would be great to play in the same team as me but 'I'm not sure Liverpool can give me the Champions League.' He went to Chelsea.
"It was a game of texting ping-pong that had only small differences each time. Occasionally a player would say his wife or girlfriend preferred the idea of living in London, Madrid or Paris. The clear message was that there were fancier shops and swankier restaurants in bigger cities than Liverpool. I knew then that the deal was dead.
"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 pissing 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."
Gerrard, who has been tipped to go into management by LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena, also said that he would like to have one of former Liverpool players Xabi Alonso or Jamie Carragher as his assistant should he one day take charge at Anfield.
He said: "If, totally hypothetically, I was going to become Liverpool manager one day I know who I'd love to have as my assistant: Xabi Alonso or Jamie Carragher. They are very intelligent, have a deep knowledge of football and are special men."