Liverpool Would Be Smart to Cash in on Martin Skrtel
The club's poor 2011-12 campaign was not due to deficiencies in defense. The Reds only gave up 40 goals, good for fourth in the Premier League
Skrtel in particular played very well. He was one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League and was voted Liverpool's player of the season.
That form has gotten him noticed. Manchester City has reportedly tabled a £20 million bid for the defender. It appears, though, he will not be leaving Anfield this summer, as Soccernet reported that Skrtel will sit down with Brendan Rodgers and talk about a new contract and where the club is headed.
Liverpool, though, should sell high on the Slovakian this summer.
In straight financial terms, his value will likely never be higher. Defenders and goalkeepers generally have the longest shelf lives of footballers, and Sktrel is only 27 years old. However, Liverpool are in a position where they don't have the financial means to keep up with Arsenal, Manchester United, City and Chelsea.
It's a bit similar to when City was chasing Joleon Lescott. Granted, in that situation, Lescott forced Everton's hand, and Skrtel isn't doing the same to Liverpool. Still, Everton held out and managed to get £24 million for the defender.
Most football supporters would agree that that price was demonstrably high. Liverpool would be smart enough to reject City's initial offer and see if they try to outbid themselves.
Would it be wise for Liverpool to sell Martin Skrtel?
The £25-30 million the club could receive from City could give Rodgers some much-needed flexibility in the transfer market. It is highly doubtful that ownership will be giving Rodgers the kind of money that was allocated to Kenny Dalglish.
Then, in footballing terms, defense is a very strong position for Liverpool.
You can't rely on Jamie Carragher anymore. Every time he was on the pitch last year, he was an accident waiting to happen.
But Daniel Agger had a great season. He and Skrtel were one of the best central defending pairs in England. If Liverpool were to sell Skrtel, the club would still have the benefit of Agger.
Of course, the issue with Agger has been—and still remains—his health. He managed to play in 27 league matches last season, but the Dane had only managed 57 in the previous three seasons combined.
Should Agger get bitten by the injury bug again, the Reds have talented young players who can step in.
Sebastian Coates, Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom and Danny Wilson have all shown promise. Coates and Kelly might be the brightest of the bunch.
Kelly can play right-back as well, but it would probably make more sense to have him focus on centre-back and have Jon Flanagan play on the right. His performance against Chelsea in 2010/11 at Stamford Bridge showed how good of a player he can be. Roy Hodgson selected him in the England Euro squad to replace Gary Cahill as well, so it's clear he has a nice future ahead of him.
Coates featured little in the squad this year, but that's understandable because he is trying to get acclimated to England and the Premier League. The Uruguayan still managed to score one heck of a goal against QPR. He'll most likely feature in the Olympics this summer, which will give Liverpool supporters a much better idea of how good he is.
Much has been said about Rodgers' hire being the beginning of a project at Liverpool, much in the same way that Dalglish's hire was. If this is truly the case, then it would make sense to start building around the younger players.
Sure they'll struggle and make some infuriating defensive mistakes, but that's how they get better. The first-team experience that Coates or Wilson would gain this year would be invaluable.
If Rodgers isn't satisfied with the experience available to him, then Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Sami Hyypia have shown that there are plenty of dependable defenders available for cheap prices.
Both arrived for fees in the £2-3 million range. Hyypia became an Anfield legend, and Kyrgiakos was a very good option to bring off the bench or start when necessary.
Martin Skrtel may be coming off the best season he'll ever have. Liverpool should ensure they profit from it.
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