Steven Gerrard to leave Liverpool reaction: Mario Balotelli leads tributes, saying Gerrard is 'at the same level' as Andrea Pirlo

The 34-year-old will the Anfield club when his contract expires in the summer

Steven Gerrard has confirmed he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season and continue playing elsewhere, bringing the curtain down on the captain's 26 year association with the club.

POLL: Is Gerrard Liverpool's greatest ever player?

The footballing world has been quick to pay tribute to the 34-year-old midfielder, who won nine major honours with the Anfield club.

Mario Balotelli, who joined the Reds this summer from AC Milan wrote on Liverpool's official website today, comparing Gerrard to the great Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

"Wow. I think of him as being at the same level as Pirlo. Vision, technique but he is powerful as well. Stevie can do anything, he's an amazing player. It's going to be very difficult for the team to find another player like him in the future."

 

The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers said soon after the news was announced this morning:

"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."

Jamie Carragher, his former team-mate at Liverpool, said it was a "sad day for Liverpool and football".

Gary Lineker called Gerrard one of the "finest players to have graced the Premier League".

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