Steven Gerrard has confirmed he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season.
The 34-year-old's contract expires in the summer, and despite the club offering him an extension, he has made the emotional decision to end his magical spell at Anfield.
MLS side La Galaxy are frontrunners for his signature, with Gerrard now keen to pursue a new challenge after donning the famous red shirt throughout his career to date.
Gerrard's announcement will come as a bitter blow to manager Brendan Rodgers, who had been keen for the ex-England international to pen a new deal on Merseyside.
He will depart at the end of the season with the Champions League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup winners medals in his possession, but will no doubt have regrets on his failure to lead the Reds to the Premier League title they crave so much.
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The club offered him a deal with different terms than previously given due to his age, but Gerrard has made the difficult decision to leave in order to secure a starting berth elsewhere.
Gerrard spoke of the enormity of his decision via the club's website, thanking everybody in and around the club for their years of support.
"This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.
"I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.
"Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it's something that's in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.
"I'm going to carry on playing and although I can't confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won't be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool - that is something I could never contemplate.
"My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.
"I can't thank Brendan [Rodgers], the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they've handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support.
"It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.
"One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.
"My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world - the supporters.
"It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high."
Rodgers himself paid a heart-filled tribute to his captain, and will now begin to plot life at Anfield without his evergreen skipper at his disposal.
It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.
"This is an era where the word "legend" is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn't do him justice," the Northern Irishman said.
"From a personal point of view I will always have gratitude for the support he gave me, when I arrived here as manager.
"Steven came to see me and promised he would be 100 per cent behind me and do everything he could to help as we looked to introduce new ideas and a new way of working.
"He wasn't just true to his word, he vastly exceeded it.
"As a player he is immense and the influence he has on games should never be understated. At times he has carried this club on his back and in my time here he has always shown the ability that has rightly seen him be regarded as one of the world's best for well over a decade.
"As a leader and as a man, he is probably incomparable to anyone I have ever worked with.
"He takes professionalism to a new level and the dedication he has to his work is an example to everyone in the game.
"He is also someone who has always put the club and team ahead of himself and I think that will ultimately be his legacy.
"People better placed than me to judge have said Steven is Liverpool's greatest ever player; when you look at the company he is in, that is some statement.
"We of course will miss him, both on the field of play and in his capacity as club captain, but his influence will live on and we wish him nothing but joy and success wherever he chooses to go next.
"Until that moment arrives I will continue to enjoy working with Steven Gerrard the man and Steven Gerrard the player, one of the greatest we have seen."
The announcement has sparked a debate as to Gerrard's place among the best midfielders of the Premier League era. Chelsea fans will point to Frank Lampard while Manchester United supporters can rightly pick out Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs.
Here's a selection of some of the best tweets on the subject...
What do you think? Is Steven Gerrard the best midfielder of the Premier League era? Is he Liverpool's greatest ever player?
Have your say below...
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