Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits it will be virtually impossible to replace Steven Gerrard but he rejected suggestions the club had not done enough to keep their inspirational captain at the club.
Gerrard's close friend Jamie Carragher, who retired almost two years ago, suggested the Reds should have offered the midfielder a coaching position in addition to the extended playing contract which Gerrard ultimately rejected.
However, Rodgers said he knew Gerrard was not ready to step away from playing just yet and with him now due to leave in the summer – for a club in the United States, Liverpool revealed on Twitter – the unenviable plans to fill the void begin in earnest.
"When I came in here (in the summer of 2012) I still believed Steven had a lot to offer the team in terms of his performance and working here I see his great influence in the changing room with other players and the great work he does at the club," said Rodgers.
"But you always have at the back of your mind he will move on and you have to look to bring through the next ones and that has had to be looked at.
"It is near-on impossible to find a direct replacement for someone of that stature and quality but we have to continue with our work and find the top players to come in.
"Steven Gerrard is unique in his play and behaviour so you can't make a direct replacement but, as we have seen over many years in football, there is always the opportunity for the next one to come in."
Owners Fenway Sports Group have already offered Gerrard an as-yet unspecified role at the club when his playing days are finally over but Rodgers said the midfielder was not interested in a coaching role at this moment.
That did not mean the club did not want him to stay on but the likelihood of an increasingly reduced role for a player who turns 35 in May was not an appealing one for Gerrard, although the Reds boss dismissed any suggestions of animosity in their parting.
"Steven's statement makes it clear. He certainly knew my feelings on him wanting to be here," added Rodgers.
"Of course I want him to stay but his role is slightly different and naturally at this level it was going to be tapered a bit.
"He wasn't ready to move into coaching yet, he still sees himself very much as a player but when that time comes and he retires that is maybe something we can look at then as he is someone who would be brilliant to have as part of the staff here.
"At the moment his concentration is on his football. He said himself he leaves on good terms so anything else said would be wide of the mark."
Major League Soccer was immediately identified as a likely destination for Gerrard and a tweet from Liverpool, trailing an interview with Gerrard later today, read: "Steven Gerrard confirms he will move to the USA this summer. Watch exclusive interview at 5pm."
The Los Angeles Galaxy have emerged as the early front-runners, although they refused to comment on "players who are not signed by the club" when contacted by Press Association Sport.
Rodgers said Gerrard had been in "turmoil" over his decision but he supported the former England captain's lifestyle change.
And he also rejected claims the disappointment of last season's Premier League title near-miss combined with a difficult start to the current campaign had made it a poor 2014 for the 34-year-old.
"It is worth pointing out in 2014 we nearly won the league because of Steven Gerrard," he said.
"Everyone references the slip in the Chelsea game but we had 38 games to win the league and we just came up short.
"Steven Gerrard captained this team on an incredible run and a big part of why we were challenging was because of him.
"His performances were monumental for us in the second half of last season and his influence on the team on the field gave us the opportunity to win the league.
"This opening period (of this season) is not what we would have wanted but that will not have changed his mind as he's had highs and lows in his career.
"Come the end of the season he will be 35, he has given it a chance to look at his footballing life and has felt the best decision is to move away from Liverpool."