The first time it happened could have been passed off as a problem with the player, the second looked to be the start of a trend. But now, after a third Liverpool player has become disgruntled over contract negotiations, it can only be described as a pandemic.
First it was Glen Johnson. Then, to much media furore, Raheem Sterling joined the contract-hating and now Martin Skrtel has called the Reds’ offer to extend his current deal as “unacceptable”.
Speaking to the media ahead of his country’s European Championship qualifier against Macedonia, the 30-year-old cited a appearance clause as the root problem with the new deal offered.
“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,” the centre-back said.
“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.”
The former Zenit St Petersburg player will enter the final year of his current contract next season, but has thrown open the possibility of leaving Anfield with his comments.
If it becomes clear that the 220-appearance veteran will not put pen to paper on a fresh set of terms, then Brendan Rodgers may be left with no choice but to sell Skrtel on rather than risk losing him for free.
Considering Dejan Lovren’s struggles in his first season on Merseyside, Mamadou Sakho’s injury problems and Kolo Toure’s advancing years, Rodgers can ill-afford uncertainty over the future of his first-choice defender.
With the Reds rated at 5/2 to finish in the top four next season, the club’s ability to ensure a pay out on that price rests largely on a summer of serenity, rather than the upheaval that derailed their campaign last summer.
With contracts causing so many conflicts at the club, however, such peacefulness doesn’t look likely.
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