Hockey fan. Tattoo enthusiast. Head bandage aficionado. Martin Skrtel is many things, not least of which is Brendan Rodgers' first name on the team sheet when it comes to choosing his defense for each match. With Jordan Henderson recently committing his future to Liverpool, Skrtel's is now the second most important contract the club hopes to extend this summer.
"My client's contract will expire in 2016, and in football never say never," said Skrtel's agent Karol Ksonto in an interview with the very twee sounding Radio Kiss Kiss, a radio station based in Naples playing all the soul, funk, and disco hits Skrtel can handle. "Recently I had no contacts with Napoli, who made an attempt two years ago. However, Liverpool have offered my client a new three-year-deal, and he will evaluate such option."
Although Skrtel reaffirmed his commitment to the club — verbally, at least — just last month, there were rumours that like many of the other contracts this season, Skrtel and his representatives haven't yet come to full agreement with Liverpool. The Daily Mail is now reporting additional details on the hold up, and suggest that it's over a new clause inserted into the offered contract.
The clause allegedly revolves around a minimum number of appearances Skrtel must make in order to receive his full salary. It's the type of clause one might normally insert into the contract of an injury-prone player, but in the past five seasons Skrtel has averaged nearly 43 games played per season, which includes the not-insignificant period of time when he was benched for most of the second half of Brendan Rodgers' first season in charge at Liverpool.
The Mail report that the minimum number of appearances could be as high as 80% of Liverpool's matches, a threshold Skrtel has met every year for the past five years with the exception of the aforementioned year when he spent half the season on the bench. It doesn't seem like a difficult target for the almost always fit Skrtel to achieve, but with the player turning thirty-one years-old at the end of the calendar year, it's a number that might decrease over the next few seasons. While unlikely to come into play in 2015-16 ‐ barring injury — the likelihood of Skrtel triggering the clause in subsequent seasons seems like a reasonable possibility.
As a player on the wrong side of thirty, Skrtel is wise to think about his future not just next season but a few seasons down the road as well lest he find himself in a Kolo Touré situation. If Skrtel's agent and the club can find an agreeable place to meet somewhere in the middle, it seems like it won't be too long before Liverpool have another player signing on the dotted line and finding surfaces to lean on.