Thursday, February 12, 2009

Danny Agger is talking without thinking

The January window came and went with a lot of talk about Agger heading off to Milan but no action on that front. Hmm, Berlusconi must have been busy or something. But now Danny is intensifying his talk of heading out, making it clear through his agent he can buy out his contract in the summer for £2 million.

First, my thoughts haven't really changed since I wrote this. Agger deserves the fans' tribute, to some extent. He provided some good moments at Liverpool.

But, he still has a lot to offer, and Liverpool has much for him. Agger is forever connected in my mind, and likely many other supporters' minds, with Vidic. They came into England at the same time, Agger was the second-choice signing for Rafa when the money couldn't be raised for Vidic, and now the Man U defender is the clear bookies' favorite for the League's player of the year while Danny is stuck behind Skrtel and Carragher, save for the odd run-out against Pompey in some mad scientist 3-4-2-1 jag Rafa decides to go on. It's tough, but Agger might want to look beyond this season.

Two years ago, Carragher was the best defender in England – hands down. He was at his peak. Last year he slipped somewhat beneath that standard he set for himself, and this season Carra's age is showing. Not terribly so, but it wasn't until fall of 2008 that I asked myself, "How much longer does he have?" Just asking one's self that question reveals a lot. The calendar conquers all. Carra turned 31 a few weeks back. Sol Campbell is 34, and that obelisk of obstinance in the center of defense for those great Arsenal sides has been well below championship standard for a couple years now. Few players' skills erode gradually, and for someone already short of pace, how many years can Carra get by with his wits, positioning and understanding of how attackers work?

My point in all this is that Agger should realize Liverpool and life in the English league offers a high-profile, high-paying position in the world of football. Sooner than later, he could find himself partnering more regularly with Skrtel as Liverpool's first choice center backs. He'll play for trophies, compete in the Champions League and get pushed to perfect his form because Carra's not going to just slink away into nothing. Look, this isn't going to happen this year. Next year's playing time likely would improve somewhat, but by 2010-2011, Agger would be looking at full-time, first-team football on all fronts.

If he wants to go to Italy and finish 2nd or 3rd for a few years with Milan, go ahead. Take care, Danny. But his future as a top-flight defender in Europe's best competitions could be much more than that.

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