Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has moved to dismiss reports linking him with a transfer to super-rich Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.
The 27-year-old recently signed a long-term contract with the Anfield club and has been praised by the Reds' manager, Brendan Rodgers, as being a critical part of the club's long-term future. However, neither the contract nor Rodgers' words seem to have deterred Anzhi from considering a move for the centre back.
"I just extended my Liverpool contract and I'm very satisfied, so let's leave it at that. I'm not going to leave Liverpool for another club," the Slovakian international stressed, adding, "I'm comfortable at Liverpool, so forget about the news that I will move to Anzhi."
Skrtel, along with defensive partner Daniel Agger of Denmark, has been the subject of transfer interests from a number of top European clubs this summer, with Premier League champions Manchester City joining Anzhi on the list of growing admirers. Agger, meanwhile, was reportedly courted by Catalan giants Barcelona. Fortunately for Liverpool fans, one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal season is confirmation from their star defenders that neither has any plans to leave Anfield in the near future.
Liverpool, incidentally, are preparing to play Skrtel's would-be employers, Anzhi, in a group stage match in this seasons' UEFA Europa League. The two teams have been drawn with Italian club Udinese and Swiss outfit BSC Young Boys in Group A. The Reds lead the table with six points from the first three games and will go into the game in Russia with the confidence of a 1-0 home win over Anzhi on the last match-day.
Moroccan Targets Improvement
Meanwhile, summer signing Oussama Assaidi has stressed he is working as hard as he can to adapt to his new club and help improve its fortunes. The 24-year-old Moroccan international, signed from Dutch club Heerenveen, has found regular first-team action hard to come by, but has impressed on the few chances he has been given.
"Every day I am learning about how to be better," he told the club's official Web site, adding, "I want to be better. I go to the gym to make myself stronger. It is very difficult to be in a new country without family. But when I arrived everyone took me into the team. I speak to Nuri Sahin [summer loan signing from Real Madrid] a lot and Luis Suarez. But I also speak with all the players. Steven Gerrard has helped me settle as well and it's nice to be here - it's going well, I think."
The Moroccan also spoke on tactical aspects of his game, stressing that his quality was to run at defenders, and either cut inside to shoot or cross from the byline.
"It's faster. But how we play at Liverpool is more like how we played in Holland: with a 4-3-3 formation and an aim to playing football. That's the way I like to play. We played good football against Everton and Newcastle and [if we keep on playing] like this, the points are coming. The fans like to watch us because we try to play football and I think in time, the points will come for sure," he concluded.