“He is aggressive, quick, is good in the air and I think he’s a very good player for the future.” Rafa Benitez following the completion of Skrtel’s signing in early January 2008.
Rafa was not wrong either; Skrtel is by far the most accomplished centre-back Liverpool currently have in their squad and regularly displays the attributes Benitez saw in him. Furthermore, Skrtel’s contributions to the reds have more than repaid the miserly transfer fee of £6.5 million from Zenit Saint Petersburg.
If the Slovakian defender can regularly repeat his best performances in this upcoming season, Liverpool can more than challenge for the Champions League places again and Skrtel can further cement his place as a Reds favourite.
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Linked with Napoli
However, life at Liverpool has not always been easy for Skrtel. When Brendan Rodgers was appointed Liverpool manager in 2012, it was initially apparent that the Northern Irish boss preferred alternatives to the Slovakian.
In Rodgers’ first season in charge, the defender found it difficult to get game time only making 25 league appearances, a steep decline on the previous two seasons at the club. This was followed by reports linking the player with a £10 million move to Napoli, which the club reportedly rejected.
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Rodgers changed his approach to Skrtel in the near title winning season of 2013-14, where he missed just two league games, scoring an impressive seven goals in the process.
Skrtel was not only a defensive rock but also clearly an attacking threat, a threat that Skrtel will hope to re-establish in the upcoming season. Skrtel scored impressive headers against Arsenal and Manchester City in an impressive run of performances for the Slovakian defender.
More to come
The performances in the 2013-14 season and the majority of last season are an example of how influential Skrtel can be to the team, both as defensively and as an attacking threat.
Liverpool supporters will be hoping that Skrtel can further produce performances at his solid, commanding best this upcoming season, as often, when the Slovakian plays well, it has an influence of the rest of the team.
Liverpool fans: How important is Skrtel to your side? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!