"The best part about the summer transfer window is getting to luxuriate in the duplicitous way that agents spin webs of deliberate ambiguity and non-committal platitudes," is something that nobody said, ever. In fact, the type of thing that people actually have said about agents and their penchant for distorting reality is so expletive-laden that it belongs on my personal Twitter account. I swear a lot in real life, you see -- it's not big or clever but I find it therapeutic, and if that offends you, well, I'm really f**king sorry.
Liverpool's Slovakian centre-half, Martin Skrtel, gainfully employs one such manipulator of vocabulary and twister of reality. Last week, I looked at how Karol Csonto, for it is he, was skilfully linking his client with his former boss Rafael Benitez at Napoli without actually linking his client with his former boss Rafael Benitez at Napoli. In fact, the way Csonto described it, Skrtel was too noble to ever consider a move away while his contract was still extant, such is the professionalism and selflessness of the man.
Today brings a slight change to proceedings with Csonto informing anyone who'll listen that he will be in Liverpool next week to speak with the club and "define Skrtel's future." Liverpool have been linked relentlessly with the likes of Tiago Ilori of Sporting Lisbon, Toby Alderweireld of Ajax Amsterdam and Kyriakos Papadopoulos of Schalke 04 and the general pattern of recent years is that there is no smoke without fire when LFC is connected strongly with a player -- the captures of Iago Aspas and Phillipe Coutinho being two notable, comparatively under-the-radar exceptions. All of this would seem to point to a likely exit for Skrtel, with Napoli apparently his first choice.
"There has been no contact between the two clubs. Martin has a contract with Liverpool and it is important to honour that," explained Csonto to Radio CRC in Napoli. "Obviously Napoli know Martin well, but there cannot be any contact between us and them if they do not first reach an agreement with Liverpool. Between Martin Skrtel and Rafa Benitez is a professional relationship that has gone on from the years they spent together at Liverpool."
One firmly established connection renewed in the minds of all, Csonto went on to drive his point home by outlining another pre-existing relationship. He then disingenuously offered Napoli some spectacularly redundant advice which was in no way a come-and-get-me-plea.
"Marek Hamsik [Napoli midfielder and fellow Slovakian international] and Skrtel are very good friends and they met last week. The midfielder requested information from Martin about Benitez while Skrtel has asked questions about Napoli. But I think that if Napoli want to take Skrtel, they should first talk to Liverpool."
Magnificent. All boxes ticked. A supreme example of agent-speak delivered by a dark master of the art. Earlier somebody tried to tell me that his quotes were simply "honest and open." This elicited a kind of panic-induced cackle from me, accompanied by a wave of nausea. If you want to survive this three month circus of disconcerting tumult, you cannot afford to be so gullible. Everybody is working an angle. Everybody.
For once, I want to take a shameful pride in the cynicism and Machiavellian cunning of those who are operating on behalf of Liverpool Football Club. In the absence of the insouciant abandon that accompanies petro-dollars, we need to find other ways of finding an advantage in the recruitment market. The business equivalent of the pre-match foot stamp, the whispered psych-out and the cynical trip is what's required here. Simply put, Liverpool need to win ugly this summer.