Liverpool targeted Willian during the 2013 summer, with the Reds going head-to-head with Chelsea over the signature of the Brazilian international.
Chelsea would go on to sign the Shakhtar Donetsk man, but Gerrard – whose autobiography is being serialised by the Daily Mail – revealed he personally got in touch with Willian in an attempt to lure him to Anfield.
“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,” Gerrard wrote.
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.’”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers also lined up a move for Toni Kroos in 2014, and the Northern Irishman again called on the help of Gerrard.
Gerrard admitted he was surprised when asked to contact Kroos, and despite the Liverpool skipper’s advances, the German World Cup winner went on to sign for 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,” Gerrard revealed.
“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.”
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