“In my conversations with [co-owners] Nassef [Sawiris], Wes [Edens] 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.”
Gerrard took his first steps in senior management with Scottish Premiership side Rangers in 2018, and leaves with them four points clear of rivals Celtic at the top of the table.
It is understood that Villa have paid Rangers £4.5m in compensation, BBC Sport Scotland reports.
“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,” said Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson.
“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.”
Gerrard played 710 times for Liverpool, winning nine trophies, and spent a season at MLS side LA Galaxy in 2015 before retiring as a player the following year.
He coached at Liverpool’s youth academy before managing the under-18 team during the 2017-18 season.
Gerrard is England’s fourth-most capped player with 114 international appearances, in which he scored 21 goals.
Gerrard joins a Villa side who have not collected a Premier League point since beating Manchester United on 25 September.
His first match in charge will be at home to Brighton after the international break, with matches against top four sides Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea among those to follow before the end of 2021.
He is well known to Villa chief executive Christian Purslow, who was previously managing director at Liverpool.
Under Smith, Villa finished 11th in the Premier League last season but following talisman Jack Grealish’s move to Manchester City in the summer, results started to slip.
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