Martin Skrtel says Liverpool contract offer is ‘unacceptable’

News from The Guardian
By Andy Hunter

Martin Skrtel has cast doubt on his Liverpool future by branding their contract offer “unacceptable” and claiming it is the kind of deal given to older players with fitness problems.

The Slovakia international will enter the final 12 months of his Liverpool contract this summer having resisted the offer of an extension for several months. In an interview with Slovakian media outlet Aktualne, the 30-year-old confirmed he had been asked to sign a deal that is dependent on playing a high percentage of matches.

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Skrtel started 48 of Liverpool’s 58 matches last season having established himself as the first-choice central defender but insists the terms on offer do not reflect his contribution to the team.

“I am still waiting for the new contract,” said the former Zenit St Petersburg defender, who is preparing for Slovakia’s European Championship qualifier against Macedonia.

When asked if the problem was the contract being appearance-linked, Skrtel said: “Sure. I think a contract like this is offered to players who are much older than me or to players who have had some health complications. But I feel good and not so old to sign this contract. Also I think my health is OK. The contract offered is unacceptable for me; this is the reason why I didn’t sign it.

“I still have a contract running with the club. There was some speculation about interest from other clubs but that is not coming from me. Now I am with the national team and will be going on holiday after that.”

With Dejan Lovren having endured a poor debut season following his £20m transfer from Southampton, Mamadou Sakho struggling with injury and Kolo Touré, who has recently signed a one-year contract extension, now 34, Brendan Rodgers can ill afford any disruption with Skrtel next season.

The Liverpool defender blames the sale of Luis Suárez to Barcelona as the main cause of the team’s mediocre return last season. Reflecting on the campaign, Skrtel said: “It was unsuccessful. We had another targets. It is not the point whether we finished fifth or sixth because we will not play in the Champions League next season. Suárez leaving was the main reason. We missed him a lot. We had many changes in the team and new players had a tough situation with acclimatising. That was the reason for the bad first half of the season. The second part was better, but we finished bad.”

As for Liverpool’s decision to retain Rodgers as the manager for next season, the defender said: “I think Rodgers has showed his coaching quality. The owners believe in him, so I can say I am happy.”

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