Merseyside Insider: Liverpool look to future but can anyone fill legend Steven Gerrard’s boots? And Everton’s own goodbye to Sylvain Distin

What’s been happening in the world of football on Merseyside this week? Jennifer Jewell gives us the scoop . . .

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End of Anfield era

It’s all about Steven Gerrard again this week as the midfield legend competes in his final game at Anfield on Saturday. Talk has turned on Merseyside to who can replace him but, of course, no one technically can replace that passion and loyalty. When you look at the contribution Gerrard’s made this season alone, it’s clear Liverpool will need to add a new strong presence in the squad.

Those vital goals he scored in the recent games against QPR and Chelsea kept the Reds in contention for the Champions League. Gerrard has said he will be very emotional as he says his farewells to the Kop this weekend and I think that’s partly because he believes he still has something to add to this squad. I’m not sure many would disagree.

. . . So who could replace the best ever?

Anfield god Robbie Fowler believes Gerrard is the “greatest Liverpool have ever had”, so whoever Brendan Rodgers brings in this summer will face the very hard task of stepping into such big boots. For most of the season, we’ve been led to believe Jordan Henderson is the man to lead the next generation of Reds and while he remains most likely to take over the captain’s armband, Gerrard’s departure leaves a huge void in midfield. Some fans aren’t sure the 24-year-old will be able to fill it. Morgan Schneiderlin, Fabian Delph, James Milner and Esteban Cambiasso are just some of the names I’m hearing being linked with the club so far.

Nai fair

After making a fantastic start to this campaign – scoring three goals in his first three games – it seemed to all be going so well for Steven Naismith. Fast forward to May, and the Scotsman now finds himself completely out of favour with Roberto Martinez after spending most of his time on the bench. It’s causing some to speculate that Naismith is heading for the exit this summer.

For a player who was probably considered one of the frontrunners for Player of the Season before Christmas, it seems strange that he is now right down the pecking order. Some have suggested Naismith, 28, doesn’t fit in with the system Martinez is playing but the energy he brings to every performance is something a lot of fans miss when he is dropped. But when you’re fighting for your place with starlet Ross Barkley, it’s never going to be easy. Hopefully, Naismith sticks around as Evertonians aren’t ready to let him go just yet.

A Distin memory

One player who the Everton fans will be saying goodbye to this summer is Sylvain Distin. The Frenchman was a first-choice defender when he first arrived in 2009 but he has since been forced to play with the Under-21s by Martinez. I was at Goodison Park last week to watch the mini derby between Liverpool and Everton U21s, and there was Distin, at 37 years old, playing with the kids.

But the former PSG and Manchester City defender’s professionalism and commitment to his sport is fantastic and something those youngsters can benefit hugely from. There have been a lot of rumours swirling around Merseyside that a rift between player and manager is behind his mysterious disappearance from the first team, but whatever the reason, Distin deserves the respect of Everton fans. Hopefully he will get a fantastic send-off in his last appearance at Goodison next week.

Read more from Jennifer Jewell here!

Follow @jennifer_jewell

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