Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel insists that he never came close to exiting Anfield in the summer despite widespread reports that the Slovakian was on his way out of Merseyside. 

Skrtel's future this summer was uncertain after he fell out of favour in the second half of the last campaign, starting just two Premier League games from mid-January through to May. 

Former Kop chief and now Napoli boss Rafa Benitez was consistently linked to making a move for the defender who admitted in May that he maybe interested in a move away if he was not in Brendan Rodgers' plans. 

But after these failed to materialise and Liverpool escaped the transfer window with no offers being submitted for the Slovakian, Skrtel told the Liverpool Echo that a move away was never likely.

"The rumours were never as strong as it was made out.

"There was no contact with other clubs because the Liverpool management told me that they were counting on me. That is why a transfer was never in my plans," said Skrtel.

A knee injury kept Skrtel on the sidelines for the first two Premier League games this season but he got and took his chance this weekend following new signing Kolo Toure's injury.

Skrtel replaced the Ivory Coast international and put in a man of the match performance upon his return as Liverpool defeated arch-rivals Manchester United 1-0. 

Despite club-legend Jamie Carragher's retirement, Skrtel faces even more of a battle to retain his first-team place this season with the summer acquisitions of Toure as well as defensive deadline duo Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori. 

Yet, Skrtel remains unconcerned by their arrival and this big competition for places. 

“Players come, players leave, it's a normal thing and we will see how that develops,” he added.

“I never considered the United game to be a chance to show that I deserved to stay at Liverpool. It was a big derby but I treated it as just another league game.”

As things stand, Liverpool currently boast the Premier League's only 100 percent record and three straight wins leaves them sitting pretty at the top of the table after their best start to a season in 19 years. 

This has only helped enhance Skrtel's beliefs that the club are capable of securing Champions League qualification this campaign despite the big-money spending from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs.

“You may say that the number of clubs competing (for the top four is increasing from one year to the next. Again we have seen clubs spending big sums of money - City, Tottenham, Chelsea and even Arsenal,” he said.

“Competition is big but when I look at how we have played, I would say that we belong in the top four.”

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