LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Craig Bellamy of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield on December 30, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Except Luis Suarez! He's penned an extension that will keep him at the club FOREVER. Or just for a few more years and some extra coin. But either way it's good news at at time when that's been at a premium. Most fun was that it was leaked on LFCTV, likely by the same drunken interns from the social media division who are steering the club's Twitstagramblrterest prospects into the abyss. Onward, dear interns.
The most solid exit rumor is for Craig Bellamy, with multiple outlets reporting that a move back to Cardiff is imminent, and the Liverpool Echo even running their "lookback" piece earlier in the day. It's all happened somewhat quickly since Great Britain's Olympic run ended in the loss to South Korea--prior to the competition Bellamy had been one of the faces heading into the new season, promoting Liverpool overseas and kicking footballs into cargo ships and stuff. If that's not concretizing your future, I'm not sure what is.
Anyhow, the rumors about a Cardiff return seemed tenuous at best a month or so ago, with both Bellamy and Brendan Rodgers speaking excitedly about the other's involvement in moving Liverpool forward. Bellamy's made no secret about his desire to finish with his hometown club, but it looked like there would be at least another year on Merseyside for a man who either provided or was directly involved in providing many of the club's most exciting moments in a season during which those were sorely lacking.
As the Olympics progressed, however, talk of the move picked up steam, and now we're at the point where saying goodbye to another one of Liverpool's more well-loved players is a reality. Even ignoring the sentiment it's confounding, as it's another player (along with Maxi and Dirk Kuyt) responsible for goals and some of the better football Liverpool were able to piece together. There's certainly good reasons from Bellamy's perspective--family being the most oft-cited one--and we'll wish him well, but it's certainly not an exit that any of us are looking forward to.
Most of the other exit talk has skipped the midfield, where I'm stink-eyeing Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, and Joe Cole, and headed straight to central defense, where Manchester City's efforts to sign Daniel Agger have become very real and very worrying. Latest news from people who don't just make stuff up (or at least don't make all their stuff up) has Liverpool asserting that the player will cost a minimum of £22million.
That they're even discussing a sale price seems absurd, even if there are very real practical needs that would be met by such a sale. As with Bellamy, Agger's a player that most think highly of, and one that seems a perfect fit for Brendan Rodgers' style of football. His presence at the back makes Liverpool a far better squad, and he buoyed Martin Skrtel last season to the point that the Slovakian at times looked the better player. Overall there's no question where the quality and class lies, though, as Agger at his best is one of the best central defenders in Europe.
Most will cling to the Liverpool being reluctant to sell part of the reports, as well as rumblings that Agger does not want to go to City, as I'm of the opinion that Agger absolutely needs to be a part of the club's future. I understand that the club are hamstrung by the wages they're paying to a number of less important squad members (Jamie Carragher included), but if there's a way to keep Agger--a player who's openly spoken about being happy during times when others have jumped ship--they need to find it.
Exit talk has cooled around Andy Carroll and Martin Skrtel over the past few days, thankfully, but there hasn't exactly been much discussion about players on the way in to pick up the slack. For now most of the attention's on finalizing the Joe Allen deal, although for a brief period yesterday there was some investment in the immediate future of Nuri Sahin, the Turkish international who made ten appearances for Real Madrid in a season that was interrupted by injury.
There's no telling if Liverpool's interest will lead to anything (pretty much all of the hubbub came from Marca, so, yeah), and scenarios in which other clubs are involved haven't turned out particularly well for the club thus far. Arsenal's been heavily linked and might have an edge, but Jose Mourinho's been open about allowing the player to move on a temporary basis and hasn't earmarked any specific destination. Were he to come to Merseyside, even if only for a season, Sahin's a player that would make Liverpool better, especially if he regained the form that saw him named the Bundesliga's player of the year at the end of the 2010-2011 season.
And so obviously, SEXY VIDEO TIME: