Will Daniel Agger Stay At Liverpool?

Daniel Agger is stalling on signing a new contract with Liverpool FC. The obvious problem: his position is overcrowded with quality. The top Danish centre back must compete with Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel who have enjoyed the bulk of the starts this season and don’t forget Sami Hyypia.

Jamie Carragher: When Steven Gerrard comes off, Jamie Carragher inevitably takes the captain’s armband. With good reason. Carragher’s inherent leadership is as important to Liverpool’s defense as his ability to strip the ball from even the wiliest of attackers and, like Gerrard, Carragher’s play is an inspiration those around him, lifting the quality of his teammates with his passion and drive.  At 31 with more than 500 appearances, it’s hard to imagine Liverpool FC without Jamie Carragher. But while he still has a few more years to give, one must wonder who will be there to fill the gap when Jamie Carragher steps down. Carragher has already stated an interest into managing after his playing days are over and one could certainly see him following in the footsteps of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness and eventually taking the helm at Liverpool.

Martin Skrtel: Martin Skrtel is a rock. When he gets it right he doesn’t foul attackers: he lets them careen off of him. Despite a few missteps here and there, Skrtel adapted to his new home quickly. His impressive performances in the spring of 2008 helped Liverpool enter a string of great results, and the start to the current season was one of Liverpool’s best opening runs in nearly two decades, due in part to Liverpool only conceding 21 goals so far (only three more than table toppers Manchester United.) So when Agger became available again, he found it hard to break into the first team as Benitez understandably did not want to alter the chemistry of the back four by ousting Martin Skrtel.

Sami Hyypia: The 35-year-old Finnish defender is rightly considered a legend by the Liverpool faithful and his work this season has shown he still has much in his tanks for the club he’s served since 1999.  Not the paciest of defenders, Hyypia rarely starts in the high-paced EPL, but he still shows his worth when needed. In the recent match against Manchester United, Hyypia came on in a last minute emergency roster change after Alvaro Arbeloa picked up an injury while warming up. While United might have hoped to take advantage of the reduction in pace in Liverpool’s back line, Hyypia’s cool head and great vision won out. The Fin was instrumental in breaking up United attacks  and allowing Liverpool to dominate the match. Hyypia cannot always keep up with younger, pacy attackers, but he shuts them down nonetheless. He seems to say, “I can’t catch you, but I know just where you’re going and I’ll meet you there.”

Agger would probably merit a slot above Skrtel in the back line pecking order if not for the injury problems the Dane has sustained since last year. When Agger went out for the long term, Liverpool’s lack of depth in the back became painfully apparent. Arbeloa was needed in wider positions and neither Hyypia nor Carragher can offer the pace that is essential in certain contests. To compensate, Rafael Benitez broke a club defensive transfer fee record when he obtained Martin Skrtel from Zenit St Petersburg for a reported £6.5m.

Now, due to the fine form of Carragher and Skrtel, there has been no room for the gifted Daniel Agger. But when Liverpool faced Portsmouth FC in early February, Benitez fielded  a surprise lineup. What appeared to be a five man back line proved to be a very attacking approach with Arbeloa and Andrea Dossena playing as wing backs, leaving Carra, Skrtel and Agger as the rear guard. While Portsmouth did score two goals and enjoy the lead twice, the Reds kept them on the back foot throughout the match, allowing Agger to do what he does best: create attacks from deep positions. His play is reminiscent of Alan Hansen’s: unafraid to push forward and penetrate gaps, Agger has the nerve and the skill to tear down the pitch, set up others and, at times, take the chance on goal himself. His 25-yard blast against West Ham was one of the best goals of that season and exemplifies the danger Agger can impose.

Agger and Skrtel are both 24 years old. When Carragher finally slows down, one can see these two building a fierce defensive partnership that could serve Liverpool for many years to come. The question is will Daniel Agger stay long enough to see that happen? Rumors abound that Benitez is sniffing out the possibility of buying Raul Albiol should Agger leave. But the qualities Agger has long displayed with Liverpool should give the manager plenty of cause to fight to keep the Dane in place.

13 thoughts on “Will Daniel Agger Stay At Liverpool?”

  1. I used to think it would be a disaster if Liverpool didn’t resign Daniel Agger, but now I feel that Carra and Skrtel can have an excellent central defensive partnership for at least 3 more seasons, plenty of time for Rafa to bring in a new defender willing to be an understudy. Agger’s quality demands that he go somewhere where he’ll be a starter, and he knows it. The Carra/Skrtel partnership might not be as long lasting as a potential Skrtel/Agger, but with Agger’s injury probelms, the partnership might not be so steady.

  2. Carra is just as impressive playing right back as he is in the center therefor it would be no problem playing Agger alongside Skrtel in the center. I think it would be a huge mistake getting rid of Agger. He’s a much better ballplayer than Skrtel and he brings a little extra to the team when bringing the ball forward. And he’s got a sledgehammer of a left foot.
    Arbeloa on the bench. Agger in the starting XI

  3. The problem is that we have two places whitch four defenders are fighting for, but for a reason Carragher position on the pitch is never put into quetion (he is one of the best defenders in the world)
    He has made many mistaskes this season!
    Agger is the best playing defender we have, we can not afford to lose him. Because People find it impotant to have local lads in the team. Instead we should buy some English players and some qaulity instead og Arbeloa, kuyt, babel, benayoun and two new strikers

  4. Sell him. He’s a mercenary, no club loyalty. If Hyypia can be delivering a top level of performance despite his frail dotage, you can bet Carra will do too. Failing that, we can buy another center-back sometime later. Good bye Agger, you once had a big future with us, not now. I’m sure the injury room will miss your presence.

  5. “Agger would probably merit a slot above Skrtel in the back line pecking order if not for the injury problems the Dane has sustained since last year.” You’ve obviously not seen how good Skrtel is then?

    Agger should stay, Carragher only has 1 or 2 years left as a first choice centre back and a Agger-Skrtel partnership looks very exciting. The perfect mix of tough guy and ball playing centre back.

  6. Carragher cannot be left out of the team at present, he commands the back line and he’s the most vocal player on the pitch. He has maybe two or three years left as a first choice regular, and then Agger and Skrtel would be the obvious centre-back pairing. Agger and Skrtel can both learn so much from Carragher and Hyypia, and they have the potential to be just as effective. I really hope we keep hold of Agger, he’s the most gifted defender we have at the club – he will get lots of opportunities to play as Hyypia and eventually Carragher feature less regularly.

  7. I agree with Odin. Theres a reason why the likes of Real Madrid and all the Italian giants want Agger. He is a superb ball-playing centre back who is also good at defending and they are very hard to find these days. Agger and Skrtel would compliment each other perfectly in the same way as Vidic and Ferdinand. Skrtel is the physical colossus whereas Agger is better at using the ball so I would be prepared to rotate Carra, Agger and Skrtel across the two positions so that they each get plenty of playing time. Agger and Skrtel are the long term future of the club. Beware of Albiol. Centre-back is a position where Spain are notoriously weak (compared to all other areas of the field) and there is a reason for this.

  8. Paul–that’s a foolish comment. He’s not a mercenary, he wants to play, and he’s not playing right now. He’s still got a big future, I want him to stay, he’s stated that he would like to, but nothing’s happening. And just because he’s not sniffing Rafa’s butt doesn’t mean he’s not loyal–if you actually read the article, he stated that he would be signing for Liverpool, not just one person. Snide comments about current players certainly shows how loyal a Liverpool supporter you are.

  9. I can’t recall ever hearing Danny asking for a transfer and I do recall Rafa asking the board to sort his contract out, the future is Agger/skertel but they also relalise they can learn from the masters Carra and Sammi

  10. Here’s a statement: The current situation in Liverpool’s defence is nigh-on perfect!

    1) We have a great balance of ages/experience: Of our (arguably) first choice defence, Carra is 31, Aurelio is 29, Pepe & Arbeloa are just 26 & Skrts is 24. Then we have enormous experience in Sami at 35, Italian international Dossena at 27, and the extremely exciting Agger at 24. On top of that, we have some true potential including Martin (23), Hobbs (20), Kelly (nearly 19), San Jose (nearly 20), Darby (20), and Insua (just 20!) waiting & developing in the wings – or on loan at other clubs.

    2) Agger isn’t stupid. He knows that a club hoping to challenge on all fronts next season can’t rely on just two top centre-backs. With Sami bound to be utilised less and less over the next 18 months, Agger will, without doubt, get plenty of chances to impress.

    3) Agger will also know that, although he has a lot of fans very excited in what he could do for us over the coming years, he doesn’t have the best injury record! We don’t owe him anything – and he understands that. Put yourself in his shoes. Will he improve his chances of winning silverware if he moves to Madrid or Milan? I don’t believe that he would and I don’t think he does.

    4) If what he is after is more first-team playing time, then he has to be patient. Yes, he’ll get opportunities to impress next season, but what about the seasons after that? Carra will slowly move into the perfect bench player – imagine two seasons from now having that quality & experience in the changing room and available to cover anywhere along the back 4 coming off the bench! Aggs & Skrts are only 4 days in age apart. They both have different but very complimentary abilities. Imagine – JUST IMAGINE – how good they could be for Liverpool for years & years into the future if they can start to gel more and more from here on in? FRIGHTENING!

    5) Don’t believe the UK press/media. (Remember, these are the guys who slate & criticise Rafa week-in-week-out, and yet Major newspapers in Spain & Italy have polled readers this week and found that he is by far the most highly respected coach in Europe). Agger is an intelligent guy – he knows how exciting times are right now and how bright the future is for Liverpool. He wants to be here for a long time to come. Wouldn’t you make sure that your contract was right if you were planning on doing just that?

  11. Responding to Matt’s comment:

    I rate Skrtel very highly and he’s been a fantastic buy for Liverpool. But it was because Agger was out for so long that Skrtel has had the time to adapt to the side and really impress. If Agger had come back sooner, it might be Skrtel fighting for a place. My comment was meant to reflect the scenario and not to take away from the fact that Skrtel has earned his starts with great defending.

    Carragher, Skrtel and Agger all deserve to start regularly, but there are only two spots for them. There are times when Carragher can be deployed as a right back, but Arbeloa is really coming into his own in that position and his pace gives him the edge.

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