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Liverpool could be set to lose one of their longest serving players this summer with Martin Skrtel said to be on the brink of ending his 8 year stay at Anfield.
The Slovakian defender has fallen down the pecking order since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp and all signs point to him leaving over the coming months.
Skrtel’s fall from grace has been quite dramatic over the past 12 months. He signed a new contract only last summer and at the time still appeared to be Liverpool’s most convincing centre-back, although there was little competition for that billing then.
Calamitous and the Matip factor
However a combination of factors this season have brought about this current situation. Firstly Skrtel’s performances have not been as good and one or two calamitous displays such as the the one he put in during Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat at Southampton in March suggest he is someone who might be moving just past his peak.
The arrival of Klopp also clearly had a bearing with the German seeming less keen to put his faith in the powerful defender than predecessor Brendan Rodgers. Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren has enjoyed a much improved second season at Liverpool while the likes of Mamadou Sakho and even at times 35 year old Kolo Touré seem to have jumped ahead of him in the Liverpool defensive pecking order.
Add to that the signing of Joel Matip from Schalke on a free transfer and it becomes increasingly hard to see how Skrtel has a future at Anfield. Matip is of a similar ilk to Skrtel in that he is someone whose main strength is his aerial prowess and like the Slovakian, he is also a real threat from attacking set-pieces with a healthy goal ratio for a defender.
At 24, it seems like he has been bought as both the immediate and long-term replacement for Skrtel rather merely than as competition.
There is still talk that Klopp could yet add another central defender with Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen and Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi having been linked with the club.
Given the Reds aren’t in Europe next season, it becomes very hard to see how squad players, which Skrtel has become are going to get much game time.
Walking away with pride
Therefore surely it is time for Martin Skrtel to end his Liverpool career this summer and seek pastures new. He can walk away with pride having made more than 300 appearances for the club although he may regret having only one trophy to show for his efforts in the shape of the 2012 League Cup.
Skrtel would still be a good signing for a mid-table or bottom half Premier League side, but a move abroad to a Champions League team may appeal more with Turkish champions Beşiktaş said to be keen on the defender.
Any move may have to wait until the end of Slovakia’s participation in Euro 2016 with Skrtel captaining his country in France, but it seems highly likely that he has played his last game for Liverpool.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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