Retaining Liverpool’s best players a priority for Rodgers

Of all the many dilemmas facing new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, including recruitment, what to do with Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani, the enduring Andy Carroll conundrum and addressing patchy home form, retaining their existing marquee players may be his most pressing concern. With the agents of Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger angling for new deals on behalf of their high-profile clients, the future is very much an immediate concern.

Luis Suarez may be a magnet for controversy but he remains Liverpool’s outstanding performer. His suspension may have cost the club a more respectable league finish last season and much depends on keeping the temperamental Uruguayan onside and happy. Only 18 months in to a five-and-a-half year deal, he does not exactly discourage interest when it materialises, flirting with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid, while telling Marca: I hope to play in Spain in the future.” All four of these sides will play in the Champions League next season, while Liverpool have been absent from Europe’s elite for three seasons, financial compensation may be required in order to retain their best players.

Martin Skrtel is Liverpool’s reigning Player of the Year and very popular amongst the Anfield faithful, but is also believed to be attracting Manchester City, who appear to be in the market for another centre-back. Skrtel, 27, joined in 2008 and his current deal has two years to run but his representative, Karol Csonto, is keen to discuss fresh terms with the club.

Daniel Agger, his partner at the heart of the Liverpool defence, is also 27 with two years remaining on his contract, having impressed for Denmark at Euro 2012, elite clubs will certainly be monitoring his future. Liverpool will be keen to address the situation and tie down both Skrtel and Agger before the close of the transfer window in order to protect their investment, rather than run the risk of allowing their contracts to approach their final year.

Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani, high earners with two years remaining on their contracts, both return from loan spells with their immediate future far from certain. Creative midfielders with an eye for a killer pass, the type of player that Liverpool have been sorely lacking, they also appear purpose-built for the Swansea blueprint that Rodgers will look to establish. “They’re certainly talented players,” Rodgers confirmed to the club’s official website. “I know Joe well from my time at Chelsea, he’s a wonderful talent. The boy Aquilani is a terrific player but he might not be able to settle.” Whether they become integral or are moved on remains to be seen.

With Carroll and Steven Gerrard demonstrating fine form on international duty and the influential Lucas Leiva returning from long-term injury, Rodgers has the necessary tools at his disposal to make Liverpool a formidable Premier League proposition. He will need to sell his vision in order to retain his best players and will need to be more pragmatic than Roy Hodgson if the players struggle to adapt to his methods, otherwise he may be in danger of emulating his fate. Replacing “King” Kenny Dalglish may be an unenviable task, but there is certainly plenty of room for improvement.

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