Liverpool wanted rid of Steven Gerrard two years before he left the club to join Los Angeles Galaxy in 2015, according to Michael Owen.
Boyhood Liverpool fan Gerrard graduated from the club's academy just after Owen, signing a professional deal at the club 11 months after Owen signed his.
Owen departed for Real Madrid in 2004, with Gerrard resisting interest from Chelsea to remain at Anfield that summer.
Gerrard eventually left for LA Galaxy more than a decade later, but Owen believes the former Liverpool skipper was forced to depart for pastures new.
"In Steven's case, I severely doubt whether he really wanted to go and play in the States in 2015," Owen wrote in his new autobiography Reboot.
"I've heard that the club wanted him out two years prior to when he actually left.
"I'm sure he would rather have wound his career down at Liverpool, playing increasingly fewer games until he reached a point where he could be integrated into the coaching staff.
"This only happened later in his case. But instead, because he'd become so symbolic and so powerful, I believe he was forced out in the short term. Steven was bigger than the club."