LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Martin Skrtel of Liverpool (37) celebrates with team mates 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)
We've known a new contract was on the way for Martin Skrtel since last week, but Liverpool's player of the season made it official today when he put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him at Anfield for at least the next few years. With uncertainty surrounding Skrtel for much of the summer as the player found himself linked to Manchester City and Napoli—as well as to Zenit Saint Petersburg, the club he arrived at Liverpool from—it was important for Liverpool to signal their intent to compete for the top four immediately or risk an exodus of their current stars, and signing Skrtel to an improved, extended contract does just that.
Following Luis Suarez' recent contract extension, Skrtel's new deal suggests the club is more interested in success in the present than some had begun to fear with veteran players leaving and richer sides circling like vultures, looking to pick off the top four talent that was still at Anfield. Still, for many the club won't be entirely out of the woods until they similarly tie down Daniel Agger to a long-term deal. For now, though, it's clearly a step in the right direction, as well as an important signal that the club intends to push for success in the coming season rather than looking only to build for down the road.
"I'm happy because I am a part of one of the biggest clubs in the world," began Skrtel's Liverpoolfc.com statement on his new deal. "After last season there was a lot of talk about my future but I have to say that the first priority for me was always to sign a new deal with Liverpool. For me it's a great thing to play for Liverpool. I am proud to play for Liverpool with these great players.
"I hope I can create history at this club and that the fans will always remember me—that's my target for the future. I have been here almost four and a half years and I have enjoyed that time here, so there were no questions about whether to stay or to leave. I can say the last two seasons were really good for me—probably the best two seasons of my career.
"If I can repeat the performances of the last two years this season I can be happy."
Here's hoping he can—and that the club can similarly lock down Agger in the coming weeks.