On the eve of Liverpool opening their preseason tour through Asia, Australia, and Finland, Martin Skrtel opened up about his recent contract negotiations and a great many other topics in an interview with The Echo.
Skrtel, a central defender and head bandage aficionado, will start his 9th season with the club after an unexpectedly drawn-out contract negotiation. One more season after this one and he gets a free coffee and a testimonial.
In the interview, Skrtel talked about how his desire to stay at Anfield was ultimately the deciding factor:
I am happy because I am staying at Liverpool and they were always my first choice...Liverpool are one of the biggest and best football clubs in the world in my eyes and I was always dreaming about playing in England and for a big club like Liverpool. My dream came true and I have been here almost eight years in the city and we are used to it now. My son (Matteo) was born in Liverpool and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to stay. The thing is when you play for a club like Liverpool it’s not always just about the money, it’s about the fans, the people working for the club and everything about Liverpool.
Oh my, was that money comment a bit of a verbal shot at a certain young winger? Regardless, the big defender's sense of loyalty to his club of 8 seasons is refreshing after recent transfer dealings. And yes, it's nice to have players on the pitch and in the locker room who actually want to be there.
It's also encouraging that after several other long-serving, beloved stars have left in recent seasons--Agger and Gerrard the most visible among them--the club and player were able to come to terms. Skrtel's experience, consistency, and steady on-field presence should pay dividends for an increasingly young, inexperienced team.
Although Skrtel didn't get into much detail about the drawn-out contract negotiations he said, "They changed the contract so obviously the talks were a little longer than they usually are but at the end of the day we agreed and that is the most important thing."
That is the important thing, and from the sounds of it, the Slovakian international was never really close to a move away from Merseyside, "Obviously there was talk about that (Inter Milan) but the priority for me was always to stay at Liverpool and sign a new contract here. Inter Milan are a big club but to my mind Liverpool are bigger."
So what about the possibility of taking over the vice-captaincy?
"That’s not a question for me. I have heard nothing – nothing has been said to me about it."
As is always the case with interviews, we'll never really know how much truth is really behind these statements. Obvious caveat aside, Skrtel is saying all the right things.
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