STEVEN GERRARD has officially been named Aston Villa’s new manager – with the former Rangers chief to be backed in the January transfer window.
The Liverpool legend, 41, has enjoyed success north of the border with Rangers since taking over in June 2018.
In his first managerial role, Gerrard led the Glasgow side to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade in 2020-21.
And with his stock continuing to rise, the 114-cap former England midfielder has replaced Dean Smith as manager after his sacking following a FIFTH consecutive Prem defeat at Southampton.
The Kop icon has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Villa Park and will be in charge for the first time next Saturday at home to Brighton.
Gerrard said: “Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach.
“In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the Board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.
“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart.
“I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”
Villa have had to pay a compensation fee of around £3m to the Scottish giants to get their man, plus a little extra for his assistant Gary McAllister.
Villa CEO Christian Purslow said: “The Board of Aston Villa are delighted to appoint Steven as our new Head Coach.
“Since moving into coaching after his illustrious playing career, Steven began by managing and developing top young players in the Liverpool FC Academy which is experience we value highly at Aston Villa.
“He then took the brave decision to test himself in the intense and high pressured environment of the Scottish Old Firm.
“His subsequent achievement in winning the Premiership title with Glasgow Rangers really caught our eye as did his experience in Europe.
“It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven’s coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa.
“We are excited he has agreed to lead us in the next phase of our ambitious plans as we look to build on the progress made since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took over the club in 2018.”
Gerrard played 710 times for Liverpool, including 504 Premier League games before moving to MLS side LA Galaxy – where he spent two years before hanging up his boots in 2016.
The Kop icon returned to Anfield to coach the Reds’ Under-18s and later U19s teams while earning his coaching badges.
And he got his first shot at senior management with Rangers ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Gerrard was linked with the Newcastle job following Rafa Benitez’s departure in 2019 but turned it down to focus on Rangers.
Last season, the Merseyside man guided the Scottish giants to an historic season.
Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title without losing a single game – winning their first league crown in a decade, their 55th in total.
The title saw them end rival Celtic’s nine-year dominance at the top of the table.
The Glasgow side also topped their Europa League group en route to the last-16 – although he missed out on Champions League group stage qualification this term after the Gers were defeated by Malmo.
Rangers Sporting Director, Ross Wilson, said: “Firstly I want to say thank you to Steven for the work, dedication and professionalism with which he has diligently carried out the role of Rangers manager.
“Steven and his backroom staff have ensured that the club is undoubtedly in a better place today than it was three-and-a-half years ago.
“I joined Steven on that journey just over two years ago and from the first day we met, I have enjoyed all aspects of our partnership.
“We have shared a desire to move Rangers forward, to modernise our infrastructure and to make the club win again.
“There have been so many areas that we have moved forward, and there is still so much to be done, but I can’t stress enough how important it has been to have with us a first team manager who shared a drive and desire to set standards and move the whole football operation forward.
“I know how much it meant to Steven that our 55th league championship was achieved last season, and alongside an excellent European record across his tenure, we have had some truly memorable days and nights.
“Personally, I am proud of the work that we have done together along with all of the players and staff, and I know Steven shares that pride.
“We wish Steven nothing but success for his next chapter.”
Gerrard has long been tipped to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager when the German decides to leave the club.
Klopp is under contract until the end of the 2023-24 season – the same as Gerrard’s ends at Villa – and has admitted he would be open to the German national team job one day.
Taking the role at Villa will give him vital Premier League experience, as well as the chance to make a name for himself in English management.
He takes charge of Villa, who welcome Liverpool to Villa Park on December 11, currently 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone.
Smith was sacked after Villa lost their fifth match in a row at Southampton last Friday night.
Gerrard admitted a YEAR ago that his wife Alex would love to see him quit football management to spend more time with the family.
Family man Gerrard travels down to spend time with his family in Cheshire as much as possible – but it can’t be easy being apart from his wife Alex and kids Lexie, Lilly-Ella, Lourdes and little Lio.
The football legend married model Alex in 2007 – but she decided against uprooting the family and moving to Scotland when he took the job.