Martin Skrtel's Best Liverpool Moments So Far
Rumours persist that the Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel will soon be bringing an end to his five-and-a-half year spell at Liverpool, with the Daily Express saying Arsenal are the latest club to be linked with a move for the former Zenit St Petersburg centre-back.
Soon after Jamie Carragher's retirement, a deal was made to bring Kolo Toure to Anfield. The Reds have also been linked linked with moves for central defenders such as Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Reading’s Alex Pearce, according to the Liverpool Echo and the Daily Mail—Liverpool’s defence looks to be undergoing a major overhaul ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.
That doesn’t mean that Skrtel’s contributions since his move to the Reds in January 2008 have to be forgotten, of course.
Since being signed by Rafael Benitez, the 28-year-old has been a key member of the Reds’ defence under four different managers.
Here are five of his most memorable moments:
Finding His Feet in a Merseyside Derby
It had been somewhat of an uncomfortable start for Skrtel following his £6.5 million arrival from Zenit St Petersburg in January 2008, with even the non-league part-timers Havant & Waterlooville causing him problems in a famous FA Cup clash at Anfield.
But by the end of March, he had started to find his feet in Rafael Benitez's side, and this was underlined with a man-of-the-match display in a Merseyside derby victory over Everton.
Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the game early on at Anfield, but Slovakia's Skrtel helped repel any Everton attempt at a comeback with a strong display at centre-back alongside Sami Hyypia.
The confidence he gained from this display would be taken forward and built upon.
Liverpool's 2010/11 Marathon Man
Injuries cut short Skrtel's next two seasons, but he always did enough to prove that he was a valuable member of a centre-back's club which included Hyypia, Carragher and Daniel Agger.
Roy Hodgson had obviously recognised this quality, and the English boss installed the Slovakian as a key member of his defence when he arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2010.
Things might not have worked out as the current England boss would have wanted at Liverpool, but Skrtel was still impressing for both him and his eventual successor, Kenny Dalglish, and the centre-back ended up as one of just two outfield players to play in all of his club's 2010/11 Premier League matches alongside Everton's Leighton Baines.
He'd established himself as part of the furniture at Liverpool.
A Wembley Hero
The Carling Cup Final of 2012 was threatening to become one of the all-time Wembley shocks when Joe Mason put Cardiff City ahead, but cometh the hour cometh a hero for favourites Liverpool.
Sixty minutes had been played when Skrtel turned home the ball following a corner for a deserved equaliser for the Reds, who then set about looking for the game-winning goal.
That didn't arrive in 90 minutes, but when Dirk Kuyt found the net in extra time that looked to be enough to secure the trophy, only for Cardiff's Ben Turner to equalise late on.
That took the game to a topsy-turvy penalty shootout from which Liverpool emerged as winners, giving Skrtel a first trophy from his time in England.
He'd done more than most to help win it.
The 2011/12 Player of the Season
As well as scoring against Cardiff at Wembley, Skrtel impressed throughout the 2011/12 campaign as the Reds sought to improve under Kenny Dalglish.
He played 45 times in all competitions, scoring four goals as well as preventing countless others.
In a campaign in which he also captained Liverpool for the first time in a league game―a 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers in April 2012―Skrtel was eventually voted as the Reds' player of the season in a vote conducted on the official club website.
It was a richly deserved honour following a fine campaign.
Kicking off the Rodgers Reign
Following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers there were widespread questions over the future of many Liverpool players, not least the defenders following a 3-0 defeat at West Brom on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
It was left to Skrtel to kick things off in fine style, though.
Against reigning champions Manchester City at Anfield, Skrtel brilliantly rose highest to power home a Steven Gerrard corner to score the Reds' first Premier League goal under Rodgers.
It would end up being a bittersweet afternoon for the Slovakian given that his error allowed Carlos Tevez to score City's equaliser in a 2-2 draw, but at least he had this moment to remember.
Given the inconsistent season that followed it, just how many more moments he'll have in a Reds shirt remains to be seen.