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Martin Skrtel Reportedly Set to Stay at Liverpool Despite Zenit Transfer Talk

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Martin Skrtel of Liverpool tackles Jozy Altidore of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Liverpool at the Stadium of Light on September 29, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Ben BlackmoreFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2013

Liverpool will resist any approach from Zenit St. Petersburg for Martin Skrtel, according to Mike Whalley of ESPNFC.

Skrtel is expected to be targeted by the Russian club in January but has established himself as a key part of Brendan Rodgers’ new 3-4-1-2 formation.

Whalley reports:

Fresh reports suggest that Zenit will make a £16 million bid in January for Skrtel, who they sold to Liverpool for £6.5 million in 2008.

But manager Brendan Rodgers declared at the start of the season that the defender was not for sale, and sources have told ESPN that this remains the case.

Reports of a potential £16 million bid for Skrtel recently emerged in the Daily Mirror, via Declan Taylor.

However, the Russian Premier League leaders appear to have left their approach too late, following Skrtel’s pivotal display in the 1-0 victory over Manchester United.

Prior to that game, Skrtel looked surplus to requirements at Anfield, where he was behind Kolo Toure and Daniel Agger in the pecking order. Rodgers also added Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, giving him four alternative defenders for only two central spots in his back four.

However, Rodgers’ tactics have since changed. He now employs a central three, utilising wing-backs, which creates a need for greater depth at the centre of his defence.

Skrtel’s Man-of-the-Match display against United has seen the Slovakian established alongside Sakho and Toure as Rodgers’ first-choice defenders, with Agger now on the bench.

However, the Liverpool boss must be aware of the bigger picture when considering the £16 million reportedly on the table for Skrtel.

Last season the defender paid a heavy price for his dire display in Liverpool’s FA Cup loss to Oldham and featured in only four Premier League games during the rest of the campaign.

Liverpool now have plenty of defensive cover, with youngsters Andre Wisdom and Martin Kelly both capable of functioning in a central three. Added to Toure, Sakho, Agger and Ilori, Rodgers has six options without Skrtel.

A fee of £16 million would allow the Anfield boss to add a world-class player to a more pressing area of the team, namely in attack where there is no suitable cover for the injured Philippe Coutinho.

As reported by Whalley, the likelihood is Skrtel has done enough to extend his Liverpool future.

But his monetary value would arguably prove greater than his on-field worth as Rodgers continues to form his vision at the club.

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