LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Martin Skrtel of Liverpool (R) celebrates with team mate Daniel Agger as he scores their first goal during the Carling Cup Final match between Liverpool and Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
What began as whispers early in the summer grew louder last week, as rumours linking Martin Skrtel with a move away from Anfield were fuelled by the player's admission that contract talks with Liverpool hadn't been going as well as he had hoped. It hasn't taken long, however, for manager Brendan Rodgers to quell any such rumours by stating his determination to include Skrtel in the club's future plans. Given the uncertainty that would have come from replacing a key part of one of the league's top defences, no matter the fee received in return, this is exceptionally good news for Liverpool fans.
"I’ve heard nothing from any other club," said Rodgers when asked about the status of the centre back on Sunday. "Martin has been fantastic and seems happy and contented. He fits into my plans and ideas. I will fight as hard as I can to keep the players that I want here and he is one of them. Unfortunately there is always that rumour, speculation and gossip and until the window closes that will continue."
Rumour, speculation, and gossip may well be unavoidable in the summer months, but that Rodgers categorically states no other club has contacted Liverpool concerning Skrtel suggests those early whispers of interest from the likes of Manchester City stem from attempts to tap up the player rather than direct contact between the clubs. It also suggests that despite that there may have so far been delays in arranging a new contract to keep the player at Liverpool for the foreseeable future, the defender is very much part of the new manager's plans and as such a new deal remains the most likely outcome.
Given that Liverpool's defence along with goalkeeper Pepe Reina and holding midfielder Lucas represent perhaps the club's one area of certainty on the pitch, ensuring that group remains intact as a base for Rodgers to build upon is key. As such it will be hugely comforting for fans to hear the manager speak of his determination to hold on to Skrtel in language far closer to that used to describe Luis Suarez' importance to the club shortly after his arrival and which is in stark contrast to the far less equivocal defence of Andy Carroll's role in recent weeks.