Ex-Liverpool defender Daniel Agger retires at 31

Former Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger takes to Twitter to confirm he is calling time on his playing career.

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Sad news from Daniel Agger as the ex-Reds defender today announced his retirement from football at just 31 years of age.

Agger’s career has been plagued with injury setbacks and although the Dane admitted it was “sad” to accept his playing days were over he said he was “proud” of the career he had.

Daniel used Twitter to confirm the news: “Thank you for your support,” he tweeted. “A great experience,” he added, in a tweet that also included a photo of a selection of his shirts, including a Liverpool one.

“It’s sad, but it is the right decision to stop. I’m proud of my career,” he wrote.

 

The centre-back was signed for Liverpool by Rafa Benitez in 2006 from boyhood club Brondby and left Anfield eight years later having established himself as a favourite for many fans, especially when he responded to transfer rumours linking him with a move away from Anfield one summer by getting “YNWA” tattooed on his knuckles.

Those injuries restricted his appearances in a Liverpool shirt but he still managed to turn out 232 times in his eight years and won a League Cup Winners’ medal in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish.

Perhaps one of the lowest points of his time at Anfield was when current England manager Roy Hodgson was boss for an ill-fated six-months. Responding to stories in the Danish media Hodgson said of Agger:

“I don’t give them mass media training. I would give mass media training to young players, but people like Agger who is knocking on 30 years of age… I wouldn’t want to pull him aside and say, ‘be careful what you say,’ because he understands those things.” Agger was actually 25 at the time.

“You’re going to get caught out,” Roy added, “But to be quoted, as he was on Sky, he doesn’t like our long ball approach, I think that’s not only tough on the boy that he’s been caught out but to be made to look a complete fool, because I think probably the one thing, at the moment, nobody in this room for one minute suggest, was that Liverpool are a long ball team.

“In fact there might be people who would suggest we should play a bit longer because we win the passing statistics every match but even our goalkeeper rarely kicks the ball beyond the halfway line so I think they’ve made him look a bit of a fool with that.”

In the same interview Hodgson also explained why Agger wasn’t playing – it was because Roy’s new signing had taken his place. “To play regularly you’ve got to be fit [which Agger was at the time]. I think most of last year he wasn’t fit.”

That was before Hodgson arrived, so why wasn’t he playing under the former Fulham boss? “He was fit at the start of this year but he had to play at left back until we signed Konchesky. Now of course Carragher and Skrtel have been playing in the centre of defence and doing well and he’s got to get into the team in the place of one of those.”

Agger’s appearances were few and far between and a few months later Hodgson was sacked, much to the delight of the vast majority of Liverpool supporters, and Agger was quoted later on how things were under Roy.

“Look at the team – we played awful, we were s**t,”  he said.

“When you look now every single player is better. Confidence can win you games and Kenny [Dalglish] and Steve [Clarke, his assistant] have put the confidence back in the players and we have shown that definitely in the last four games.”

Better still, the football was now of a style Agger – and most fans – would prefer to see from the Reds: “Kenny likes to play positive football, going forward, and keeping the ball on the ground and he is good among the players. The training sessions have been really good and everything starts at the training ground. If you get that right you have a big advantage in the games.”

Of course those good times under Kenny didn’t last as FSG sacked him just after that League Cup winning season. In his place came Brendan Rodgers and soon, as it had been under Roy, Agger found himself making limited appearances. In 2014 he moved back to Brondby, a year after rejecting reported advances from Barcelona to stay at Anfield.

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He told Danish TV what had led to him making that big decision to leave Anfield, pointing to his relationship with Rodgers. “There was much [distance] between us, and for me it was just enough,” he said.

“I felt that he didn’t appreciate the things I could do or contributed. When I feel that, then it’s time to move on.

“When you are a part of the starting eleven for several games in a row and the team have performed well, and you feel that you have played well, then you are left out of the team and don’t feel appreciated, it starts to get pray on your mind and you wonder.
“Then, at the same time, you see the statistics from your game – which are so important all around the world of football – and you don’t understand why you weren’t used more often.”

The defender did have some praise for Rodgers, but suggested he felt let down by a lack of openness from his former manager: “He’s an extremely, extremely competent coach. The things that went wrong between us is that I say things the way they are and I expect others to treat me the same way. Maybe it is wrong to always expect this.”

Agger, who also won 71 caps for Denmark, was recently linked with a reunion with the man who brought him to Anfield, Benitez, who is now Newcastle boss, but today’s news confirms that won’t be happening.

The willingness Agger showed to put his body on the line for Liverpool – despite all those injuries – showed an attitude that many Reds players have lacked in recent times. An excellent defender, his abilities going forward and his desire to turn defence into attack are qualities Jurgen Klopp needs to look for as he rebuilds his Liverpool side.

At £6m Agger, despite the injuries, turned out to be something of a bargain.

He’ll be missed from the game but left us with plenty happy memories. Good luck in whatever comes next for you Daniel.

How Jurgen Klopp can take Liverpool forward next season

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As the curtains came down in Switzerland and as the Liverpool manager embarked on the journey home with his team one thing was confirmed.  His team has many lapses and may not really move on in the manner expected without proper changes.

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Going back to the Liverpool case, some players have underperformed all season and Klopp needs to cut them off from the team if he is to take Liverpool forward in the coming season.

Defensive changes

Alberto Moreno’s lapses in concentration can no longer be condoned. At least one top level left back needs to be integrated into the squad.

Martin Skrtel for his part has the looks you would want from a starting centre back but he hasn’t been fit for much of this season. When he played, he was part of some of the most surprising Liverpool defeats. It is time to move on for him.

Kolo Toure was great on the night in Switzerland but at 35 years of age, the club needs to be moving away from him. Nothing epitomises the failings in Liverpool’s defence more than the fact that Kolo Toure is still in consideration for a new contract.

Simon Mignolet has divided the Kop for a while and he recently signed a new 5-year deal.  Whilst it is still difficult to say if he is good enough or not, one thing we definitely know is that he needs some serious competition. The signing of Loris Karius from Mainz may be all that is required to solidify the goalkeeping department.

Midfield changes

Emre Can and James Milner are great workhorses but they come up short in games at critical moments.  In Switzerland for instance, they needed to control pace and stifle Sevilla’s momentum after the equaliser. They failed to do so of course.  A further confirmation of the failure to control games is the fact that Liverpool threw away leads (in some cases two goal leads) up to four times since the turn of 2016.

Tactical changes

Klopp isn’t blameless even though he has brought lots of positives since arrival at Anfield.  His in-game management hasn’t been at the best level most of the time.  Most of the talk would be about him focusing on why he has lost 5 finals in a row but his in-game management deserves more self-reflection.  Against Sevilla, bringing in Lucas may have helped stifle Sevilla. Jordan Henderson is no Steven Gerrard but bringing him on earlier may have helped calm the team in the midst of the Sevilla onslaught.

Klopp’s first season wasn’t a disaster given that two final appearances seemed farfetched with Brendan Rodgers in charge last October. However, these changes must be initiated to ensure it won’t be sideways movement for Liverpool come next season.

 

John Barnes is Deezer’s most-streamed footballer

When footballers try their hand at music…

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On the eve of Euro 2016 someone at music streaming service Deezer has a good look at their streaming data to find out if any footballers have managed to do well in the music industry – and found enough of them to pick a full team, with one still a current player.

Sadly it’s not the best selection of songs, on the whole, with former Liverpool, Hamburg and Newcastle forward Kevin Keegan giving everyone the opportunity to tell him they’d “love it” if he stayed well away from any recording studios. His effort, ‘Head Over Heels in Love’ is at No.4 in Deezer’s chart. Somehow.

Top of the chart is another ex-Red and this time it’s probably the best of the lot by some distance. No, not his efforts on Craig Johnston’s ‘Anfield Rap’ with the rest of the LFC squad from 1988 but his well-loved rap along with New Order on ‘World in Motion’, England’s World Cup song for Italia ’90. The difference ‘Digger’ made was enough for it to be New Order’s only UK No.1 and it’s now Deezer’s most streamed song by a footballer.

Although John has now retired from playing he is still rapping and can often be heard doing so on tour with 5Times, the Liverpool Former Players Association, although more often than not it tends to be ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang and it’s well worth a listen if you ever get chance to go to one of his shows.

Real Madrid’s Jesé Rodríguez is the current player who’s had a dabble in the music industry and the Deezer list also includes actor Vinnie Jones, who used to dabble in the football industry.

Explaining their chart, Deezer say: “By examining the long-standing relationship between football and music – from renowned chants to rousing championship raps – the line-up is composed of European players past and present who have tackled the music industry, and have been ranked according to the frequency of their music streams on the platform over the last 12 months.”

Of Barnes and New Order’s efforts Deezer say: “It comes as no surprise that England midfielder John Barnes takes the coveted title of the most streamed footballer in the ‘Deezer 11’ with his 90s smash hit and team up with New Order, World In Motion – perhaps the only thing England will win this year.

“Receiving almost five times as many streams as his closest rival Jesé Rodríguez, World in Motion is almost as synonymous with John Barnes as his powerful left foot.”

The Rodríguez number is Spanish hit, ‘Yo Sabía’, which pips the effort by the sadly recently departed Dutch soccer maestro Johan Cruyff. His hit was ‘Oei, Oei, Oei (Dat Was Me Weer Een Loei)’, one we’re sure everyone reading this is familiar with.

The ‘Starting 11’, ranked in order of streams, is:

John Barnes – World In Motion
Jesé Rodriguez (Jey M) – Yo Sabía
Johan Cruyff – Oei, Oei, Oei (Dat Was Me Weer Een Loei)
Kevin Keegan – Head Over Heels in Love
Vinnie Jones – Big Bad Leroy Brown
Andy Cole – Outstanding
Slaven Bilic – Vatreno ludilo
Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde Kann Niemand Trennen
Ruud Gullit – Not The Dancing Kid
Peter Schmeichel – We Can Do It**
Youri Djorkaeff – Vivre Dans ta Lumière**

*For this activity Deezer analysed songs from 30th May 2015 to 30th May 2016

**Note: Peter Schmeichel’s and Youri Djorkaeff’s hits are not listed on Deezer

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Christian Harris, Deezer UK & Ireland Managing Director says: “While the odds on England winning Euro 2016 may be slim, we know with certainty that England would definitely take home the trophy for the most iconic football song. Who doesn’t remember John Barnes’ World In Motion summing up the 1990 World Cup?”

Deezer don’t just stream music they also stream sport and this summer that includes Euro 2016 coverage. Harris said: “With more live football on Deezer than ever before including all of Euro 2016, we wanted to celebrate some of our favourite football songs from across Europe through the ages with our ‘Deezer 11’.”

Quite why they ignored ‘Liverpool (We’re Never Gonna Stop)’ by the Liverpool FC 1983 Squad is something we’ve not asked them, but it’s track nine on this album of, er, masterpieces.

At least they didn’t mention ‘Diamond Lights’ by Hoddle and Waddle.

Why Liverpool should move for Jordan Amavi

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Amavi could be the answer to Klopp’s problematic left back position, writes Sam May.

Given Aston Villa’s poor performance last season, a move for Amavi would raise eyebrows. However, having suffered a knee injury during the campaign, he can’t be blamed for their relegation.

Tenacious in the tackle, a set-piece specialist and fine dribbling skills, he is just what Liverpool need at the back and is also dynamic, quick and aggressive. The 22-year old Frenchman would definitely be a bargain at £10 million.

The Villains have made it clear, they would be prepared to part company with one of their consistent performers, and Amavi would be a more defensive option should the Reds make a move.

Liverpool need to buy a left back that can actually defend and should the medical team give the green light, Klopp is ready to take a gamble, despite his injury concerns.

He could be the replacement for the underperforming Alberto Moreno who has endured a tough time on Merseyside since his Premier League arrival.

The Reds do face competition for his signature with Lyon and AC Milan, who have reportedly been in discussions with his agent regarding a move.

 

Follow Sam on Twitter: @Sam95May