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Is it owner and out for Daniel Agger?

by Gareth Roberts // 10 August 2012 // 26 Comments

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It might be one of those situations where it’s not in Daniel’s hands, and it’s up to the owners at the end of the day.

“The manager has gone on record and said that every player has got his price, so we’ll have to wait and see, but of course if you ask me I want him to stay. I want all our best players to stay.”

IF Daniel Agger is sold, it could be the vanishing point; the point where the lines of economics and football blur, converge and disappear into the sunset.

The ‘every player has his price’ line from Brendan Rodgers may well be true – but it’s not what fans want to hear. Especially when the player in question is a key one like Agger.

OK, he’s 27. Yes, he’s only made 119 appearances in seven years in the league. But regardless, he’s Liverpool’s most accomplished centre half, and one of the best in Europe as his performances at the Euros underlined.

Agger’s not just another defender. He’s a left-footed playmaker – a Rolls Royce of a defender and the type that aren’t readily available. That’s the reason Manchester City have offered what they have offered. He’s an influential proven Premier League performer. He provides balance in the Liverpool defence and his presence lifts the performances of players around him – especially Martin Skrtel. When those two are in tandem at the centre of defence, the back four looks settled and confident. That’s a base to build things on – why undermine it?

Also, despite being labelled a crock, it was only the 2007/8 season when Agger’s appearances in a season for club and country have dipped below 30. Then he managed just eight through injury. Last season it was 39, the season before 42, 32 in 08/09 and 49 in 06/07. The last two seasons Agger has played more games than Steven Gerrard. Would the club consider selling the skipper if the right offer came along?

If Liverpool take the cash – and the ecomomic model Fenway seem to be following certainly suggests they will will Brendan Rodgers end up with an adequate replacement of the same standard? And if that player exists why haven’t City bought him?

Or will it be another young player – a player liable to make mistakes, a player that might grow into the role eventually but isn’t ready for the here and now?

Any player will need time to settle and time to build an understanding with the players around them. Frankly, with the first Premier League match a week away, Liverpool don’t have that time. The Moneyball/Soccernomics/Lyon approach makes a lot of sense but following the model so rigidly that it allows one of your best players to leave the club in his prime when the team is in transition doesn’t. The key is to have a younger back-up knocking at the door when the time comes to sell your top player.

The back ups already on the books just don’t pull the strings like Agger does. The jury is still out on Sebastian Coates (21), Martin Kelly (22) is a prospect but inexperienced at centre half at the top level and Jamie Carragher (34) is at the wrong end of his career and with an entirely different style to Agger.

Selling Agger just seems like creating another problem for a new manager who already has plenty on his plate. Liverpool need less problems, not more.

Tellingly, the manager has said he wants to him stay. The player wants to stay. Yet Gerrard – with the quote above – is hinting that it is the boardroom that want to sell up if the price tag is met. Is £25-£27m THAT much? Cynics would say it’s just enough to cover the fees for Fabio Borini and Joe Allen…

And once that cheque is banked, won’t Liverpool suffer from the same age-old problem that has plagued them through the eras: clubs will know there’s money to be spent and a squad to be improved and prices will be ramped up accordingly when Liverpool come knocking.

It could be a false economy. Agger seems a perfect fit for what Rodgers is trying to do with the side and Liverpool have made the mistake many times in the past of opting for numbers in the squad rather than quality on the pitch. Yes, that fee for Agger could bring in two or three players. But how good will they be from the get go? How influential will they be by the end of the month?

There’s also the PR aspect. What message will selling Agger send out? That an economic model is triumphing over football sense? That Liverpool’s players are ripe for the picking? That the club can no longer bat away offers from modern football’s ‘big boys’?

In this instance, football should triumph over economics.

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26 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more mate, Agger’s value to the team massively outweighs his potential transfer value. We are paying over the odds for Allen because his potential value to the team is so much greater than that of his individual talents suggest, so why are we allowing possibly the best footballing centre half in Europe to leave for what on the face of it is an excellent deal but under scrutiny is far from it?

    I thought moneyball was about paying the money to get the right pieces of the jigsaw in place, losing Agger may mean that more money has to be spent to cover his loss to the team than we actually earn from the transfer.

  2. I think it’d be easy if it appeared the player wanted to go. It’d also be easier if it was Barcelona knocking and not a club from down the road.

    I’d be gutted to see him go, especially – as you say – with no obvious replacement.

  3. The last paragraph is what really worries me about the situation.

    “Every player has a price,” do they? What price can you put on say Steven Gerrard? What price can you put on Agger and Skrtel’s partnership? On how he brings the ball out of defense? How he settles the team down?

    If Agger leaves, not only is it terrible for the team, but worrying from the managers. They’ve still yet to invest more than £20 million of their own money. New reports are suggesting it may have been even less so now, with the inclusion of wages.

  4. For me it’s quite simple. Until we get back into the CL we are unlikely to attract many (if any) CL quality players regardless of transfer fee or salary. Therefore we must do everything in our power to keep the ones we do have.

  5. Totally agree, FSG has to look at the playing staff for the club to be successful on the field to yield the money they want off the field so selling our top players will hurt us both short, medium and long term, sometimes you have to say no. Torres you could see was burnt out and 50m was too good to tun down but Agger is 27 and not even in his prime as a defender yet, If any player suited Rodgers style then Agger is the top name.

    Agger’s influence can’t be understated or priced because for us to catch the likes of City we need to get closer not give them one of our own key elements. YNWA great piece Gareth.

  6. Hear bloody hear. You don’t replace players like this. I’d rather go into the season with just Allen and Borini in than sell Agger – he makes us a better team in a way few defenders can.

  7. Playing devil’s advocate – what if Barca wanted Agger but were only prepared to pay 10M for him next season when he only has 1 year left on his contract. And what if Agger says he want to stay but is pricing himself out of contract negotiations in order to set up such a future move? Then I’d say bank the money now. At the very least if he really does want to stay that weakens his negotiating stance on the new contract meaning he may happily lower his wage demands. Hope he stays but it all depends on the hidden agendas!

  8. Totally agree with the piece above! We have one of the best partnerships in Europe at the back, the money and effort to get another like it will far outnumber what we’ll receive.

    Wener said we certainly could compete with anyone in football, this is the time for FSG to show us that they mean business and actually have a desire to win.

    If for profit reasons they do decide to sell Agger I hope his love for the club and the city makes him dig in and shove it.

    There is enough deadwood in the squad they can sell and replace with our youngsters without resolving to sell one of our few world class players to a rival club!

  9. I think it’s clear from Danny’s latest tattoo that he wants to stay. Rodgers wants him to stay. Selling a player who doesn’t want to go is less difficult than keeping one who wants to go – but both are possible.

    Seriously undermines the manager’s authority and standing if Agger is sold against both his and Rodgers wishes.

  10. Absolutely right. It is a dangerous precedent to set if you are selling your best players to a rival when neither the manager or player wants to leave.

    Do we really want to follow Arsenal’s policy? Sell our best player every summer and be content with top 4 every year. Sure, it’s a great business model as the money will keep rolling in but as a supporter I want trophies and glory not money in the bank.

  11. Show me the money FSG! Show me the money! Not by selling. Really show me!

  12. Playing Devil’s Advocate a bit here. I realise it’s unpopular, but I’m trying to explore the angles of this possible transfer in which it might make sense.

    As you say, the team is in transition. How long we will be in transition for is not clear – but it could be for 2/3 years. By that time, Agger will be 30 years old and would most probably be worth a lot less than he is now. But Currently, Agger is 27 and his value is probably as high now than it will ever be.

    So, IF, we were ever to cash in on him, now would be the best time to do it.

    I’m using the word ‘transition’ to mean “we’re not going to win the league this season”, and “we’re probably not odds on to reach the top 4″. Whether I actually believe this or not, is irrelevant (I always get that optimistic feeling at the start of every season). But, if we accept that this season is all about laying the building blocks for potential success – and that Liverpool won’t be challenging for the league for about 3 years – then cashing in on him now and reinvesting that money in some excellent 19-23 year olds could make very good sense.

    We bought Luis Suarez for around £22.8m about 18 months ago. That’s around the same money we would receive for Daniel Agger from City. Luis Suarez is worth at least double that amount now – and probably more. In other words, that £22.8m investment was a brilliant investment. If we could somehow replicate another investment like that, then the long term gains for Liverpool FC would be massive. Downing isn’t a bad players, but could you imagine a clone of Suarez playing instead of him, and Joe Allen playing in place of Shelvey? We would be have great first team – no question.

    But Agger might be missing from that team. Well, I would give Kelly or Coates a run. We all have high hopes for both of them. They won’t get better by watching the game from the bench. This is a big season for both of them, in terms of their LFC futures. Both are too good to be reserves.

    I love Agger. I love the way he plays. I don’t want him to leave. I’m just trying to see if FSG have a point of view that makes sense. I think they do. But it’s a judgement call. And if they make it, the money has to be right.

    • surely we have enough young defenders in kelly, coates, and wilson. plus the younger wisdom and sama, the only cultured centerback we have is agger. would these younger player benefit but watching Agger in training and not by playing against him..

      agger makes those around him play better.
      skrtel will start hugging strikers and carra will have everybody back on the goal line hitting punts upfield.

  13. Looking at it from every conceivable angle, it’s still a bad idea. Dan is a rare breed: ball-playing centrehalf with a great left foot and someone utterly committed to the club. No one wants him to leave, bar the (Billy) bean counters. I gave admired Rodgers in pretty much everything he’s done since taking over but in this instance he should maybe stick to his guns and refuse to sell no matter what. If he wants Agger to stay then there should be no question of him being sold. It is a dangerous precedent. We bought him for £5.8m. Even if we sold him on three years chances are we’d be up on the deal, never mind the importance of having one of our best players with us in his prime. This is a test of FSG’s nous and I hope they don’t blow it because if they do a lot of goodwill will go with it.

  14. Great article by Gareth Agger and and players of that quality are the difference between top 4 and top 6,if the club get 22M you could sign another centre half for around 15M and have 7M to spend in other areas, but there is no guarantee that he will get the same understanding with Skrtel,LFC should be buying top players to go with the likes of Agger and you just have to look at the clubs in the top 4 buying top players if the club are not careful they could fall even further behind.

  15. What if we accept a large bid but Danny rejects the opportunity to move elsewhere? He appears to REALLY love the club, even before the new YNWA tattoo, he said this numerous times and he doesn’t appear to be money driven. I sincerely hope the club can sit down with him, get him on a long contract and give him whatever he wants. The club cant force him out if he doesn’t want to play elsewhere. That really would be a strong statement of intent, just like renewing Suarez’ contract

  16. if we want to get back into champions lge then we are going to need our best players and Agger is the best CB we have to let him go would be a terrible decision he fits right into Rodgers style of play still to see players coming in to replace Maxi and Kuyt plus it looks like bellamys gone aswell now

  17. It’s up to the owners…Agger wants to stay…. Rogers wants him to stay…and yet it’s up to the owners……….. that’s all we needed to know

  18. surely the player can just refuse? turn down a move? then he stays, rodgers gets to play him and we see the benefits.

    agger runs down contract, is either offered a new one or leaves as a fee.. FSG wont like that but sometimes you have to take a hit.. its called business!

  19. Hopefully this is public posturing regarding contract talks, even if Agger stays the club need to tie him up to an extension as he has only two years left and can leave for half the price next year. An anouncement of a contract extension would be the ideal news, then Allen, Dempsey and a deadline day deal for Ramirez. A good summers business and wage bill reduced with Kyut, Maxi, Aqualani and hopefully Cole and Adams leaving.

  20. He is worthless to our club….. Superb Defender. No fee will cover what would be missed if he is sold. You do not get that kind of commitment and loyalty in today’s game.
    That new Tattoo says it all

  21. Gah….. Priceless is what I meant to put………

  22. Great article and totally agree. The key for me is that Agger is red through and through and wants to stay. We have sold some of our better players in recent years because they wanted to go, so this time it makes no sense to sell him and sends all the wrong messages to the rest of the squad.

  23. The 96/97 season Blackburn sold Alan Shearer for a then worldrecord 15 million, they were relegated in the 98/99 season – 4 years after they won the title; basically the value in the bank means nothing to the value on the field when the player is vital and irreplaceble – both are true in Daniel’s case; I’ve been a big supporter of the owners to date, if this sale is forced through my guess is it will be the end of a potentially beautiful relationship (between the supporters and the owners), FSG…..DON’T

  24. Agger doesn’t want to go and the manager doesn’t want him to go. That should be the beginning and end of this story, FSG could set a very dangerous precadent here. We’ve got top dollar in the past for Alonso & Torres in the past and replaced them with expensive replacements not of a similar ilk and the team has suffered as a consequence.

    We sent a message out last week by committing Luis Suarez to a long term contract why send out mixed signals with Daniel Agger. 4 of our back 5 in Agger, Johnson, Reina and Johnson are very strong. It took 3 years to replace Michael Owen, have we ever replaced Xabi Alonso and how long would it take to replace Daniel Agger?

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