When Lucas Leiva, in a gesture of true collegial altruism, handed the captain's armband to Daniel Agger after the latter was subbed into last month's match against Melbourne Victory, the debate over which of the two would formally take the title of being Steven Gerrard's right hand man as the vice captain seemed settled. With one pre-season match left, it will only be a short time before Brendan Rodgers formally announces his selection, but all signs continue to point to Agger at this stage.
Agger's qualities are many and varied, but chief among them is his dedication to his club. What was previously one of many selling points in the vice captaincy debate has in recent days morphed into something far more important as his manager positions him as the antithesis of everything Luis Suarez currently represents. While Suarez does his utmost to write himself into Liverpool's history books as the villain of the Rodgers era, Agger is being held up by the gaffer as the paradigm of one of the club's key values.
"This is all about loyalty," Rodgers said during his press conference ahead of the match against Valerenga in Oslo. "He's obviously a world-class defender. Daniel is very committed to Liverpool; he's one of the players that have really impressed me.
"If we're talking about loyalty, he was one of the first players that I spoke to when I became the manager. At the time, there were a number of big clubs looking to sign Daniel. But he gave me his word that for as long as I wanted him to be at Liverpool, he would be at Liverpool. He has never swayed from that."
One of those big clubs last year was Barcelona, and we all know that ended with YNWA being tattooed on Agger's knuckles instead of the Més que un club that would have required him to mutate a sixth digit onto both his hands. Rumours about the Catalan club once again circling Merseyside in hopes of procuring Agger's services gained traction this month, but today Liverpool rubbished reports that a £17 million bid had been made. Aside from the fact that Liverpool are not looking to sell the Dane, Rodgers pointedly reminded everyone that Agger is still only one year into a long-term contract with the club.
"He has an unswerving commitment to Liverpool which is so refreshing," a newly saucy Rodgers said. "His loyalty to the club is incredible. I would suspect when he signed his new contract last year, he was hoping that this would be the contract that's going to allow him to see out the best part of his career at Liverpool."
It's hard not to read Rodgers' statements without keeping one eye firmly fixed on how it paints Suarez by contrast. Rodgers is, first and foremost, speaking eloquently about Agger, but the volume of subtext he's able to pack into such a short series of quotes is deserving of a orator's medal of some kind. There are ancient Romans who would be jealous of the flawlessness Rodgers is currently exhibiting on the stage.
Regardless of whatever ends up happening with Suarez, Rodgers has found himself a man of character with Daniel Agger. Rodgers spoke last season about wanting to bring more character into the dressing room, and he'd be hard pressed to find a better example than Agger for the rest of his squad to emulate.