A season-long loan for one of Liverpool's longer-serving squad members seemed a fairly unlikely prospect a few weeks ago, but now, with Pepe Reina having already joined Napoli and Rafa Benitez for the year, we're staring down the possibility of having two squad regulars shipped off to Italy on a temporary basis. Rumors today have Martin Skrtel set to join Napoli on a loan to buy basis, giving Benitez two members of his preferred defensive unit during his time as Liverpool boss.
It's hard to say what, if anything, is actually in this one, as the timing makes it feel as though it's a thing mostly because of what's going on everywhere else. The club are supposedly back in for Kyriakos Papadopoulos, which would drive Skrtel further down the depth chart at the back, and Reina's move to Napoli makes another loan deal not completely out of the question. Add to the mix that The Mirror are the only outlet pushing the story along, and it's at least a little dubious.
But it might not be the silliest proposition in the world, especially if the loan to buy option is present and Liverpool's interest in Papadopoulos pans out. Skrtel has had an impressive preseason thus far but doesn't look likely to displace Kolo Toure as first-choice, leaving opportunities in the starting eleven limited at best. If Papadopoulos arrives, Brendan Rodgers would have his future and present sorted; the young Greek defender would be ready now if fit, and most have him slotted in alongside Daniel Agger straightaway. Toure can afford to oversee that and provide support where needed, but Skrtel--who turns 29 this year--is arguably still in his prime and is going to want matches.
So long as Liverpool have the depth, letting Martin Skrtel go makes sense, temporarily or permanently. A fully-fit Kyriakos Papadopoulos would be an upgrade, and there's little reason for Skrtel to remain at Anfield as fourth choice when he'd have opportunities elsewhere.