Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Loaning out Martin Skrtel Would Be a Mistake
Rafael Benitez is close to bringing Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel to Napoli.
The 28-year-old will initially join the Serie A runners-up on loan, but the Reds are insisting on a clause that makes the deal permanent if the Slovakian captain remains fit.
Skrtel had previously vowed to fight for his first-team place at Anfield but will now settle for a reunion with Pepe Reina.
The club has already loaned out Pepe Reina, but the circumstances would be a bit different with Skrtel. Simon Mignolet just arrived at Anfield. It might be nice to have Reina down the line if Mignolet has a little trouble in his first season. Brad Jones is the backup goalkeeper, so Reina also gives the club some security next season if he stays at Anfield. Or, maybe Barcelona will be more willing to make a deal a year down the road as Victor Valdes gets up there in age.
Fans don't really see much of a role down the line for Skrtel. He doesn't fit in well with Brendan Rodgers' system. He's not good with the ball at the feet and he has trouble when trying to hold a high defensive line.
At 28 years old, he'll be on the decline by the time he does get used to passing out from the back. It's smarter to buy a younger player or rely on somebody already at the club, like Sebastian Coates, Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom.
What should Liverpool do with Martin Skrtel?
With a loan, the team can get Skrtel's wages off the books for a season and open up a spot for a more suitable player. What happens if he comes back, though? Management would still have to go through the whole process of finding another club for him.
Working it out with Napoli, so that there's a fee to make the deal permanent, could work out. However, the Reds would likely run into one of two problems should that fee get put into the loan deal.
On one hand, Skrtel would underperform in Italy, thus giving Napoli no motivation to activate the clause. They'd simply write off whatever price it took to loan in the player and forget about it. At that point, Skrtel's value would be even lower than it presently is, and the club would have an even harder time selling him.
On the other hand, Skrtel could play very well, thus giving Napoli a very good player for a reduced fee because of the deal that had already been worked out. Then, Liverpool would be leaving money on the table. The chances of this happening are pretty slim, however.
The club has already been down this road with Alberto Aquilani. After Aquilani's disappointing first season at the club, the Reds loaned him out to Juventus in 2010-11 and then AC Milan in 2011-12. Both loans were made with an eye toward a permanent deal. Instead, Aquilani returned, leaving Liverpool scrambling to get a new deal for the player away from the club. Eventually, he was sold to Fiorentina.
At this point, Liverpool should do whatever it can to permanently offload Skrtel. If it means slightly reducing their asking price, then so be it. The headache of selling him this summer will pay off in the long run. The club will be able to focus on finding a replacement without the issue of finding him a new home in a year's time.
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