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Mercato Madness: Could Liverpool's Daniel Agger soon be on the market for Napoli and a Rafa Benitez reunion?

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After a season that featured inconsistent playing time, Daniel Agger sounds like he's not terribly happy with the way things stand for him at Liverpool. Now there's talk of a possible move to Napoli to reconnect with his old boss Rafa Benitez. But how likely is that?

Julian Finney

Two years ago, Daniel Agger had one of the best seasons of his career. He stayed mostly healthy, he fit well in the system that Brendan Rodgers brought with him to Liverpool, and he generally seemed as though he was ready to take the next step and join the ranks of the elite defenders in the English Premier League.

Last season, however, did not go so well. Liverpool bought Mamadou Sakho, a French international defender, who, like Agger, is left-footed. Rodgers seemed unwilling to ever experiment with a lefty pairing in the heart of his defense, so his lineups had to feature one or the other. Unfortunately, Agger suffered a few injuries last season, which greatly reduced his available playing time, and ultimately made just 18 starts across all competitions.

Now, with it seeming as though Liverpool are about to sign Dejan Lovren, a right-footer comfortable playing on the left and the right side of central defense, Agger seems concerned about his place in Liverpool's side.

"It is no secret that I had problems last year and I am considering my position. Seriously even. Because the way things were last season were not bearable for me. I am [at Liverpool] now, and now it is up to myself to show the manager that it is me who will play."

-quotes translated from Danish media reports by
Liverpool Offside user marque_pierre, a native Danish speaker

That's not a happy-sounding player, despite his long history with the club and current standing as Liverpool's vice-captain. That's opened up rampant speculation in the media as to whether or not Agger will leave the club this summer, with many mooting Napoli as a potential destination.

The fit is a pretty obvious one: Napoli is coached by Rafa Benitez, under whom Agger enjoyed some of the best periods of his career. Napoli are also believed to be potentially looking at bringing in another center back to reinforce their back line, though that search has slowed to more of a "would be nice" summer option rather than a priority in the wake of the Kalidou Koulibaly signing.

Of course, the obviousness of the link could also be leading to lazy speculation, as there's not much actual evidence to link Agger to Napoli as of yet. Rafa is supposedly "interested" in a reunion, but there's been no real quotes or the like tossed around yet to lend legitimacy to the rumor.

Should Agger actually come to Naples, though, he would give the partenoei back line a significant boost. He and Raul Albiol would become the obvious first-choice pairing, with Federico Fernandez used as a strong rotation option and forming a pretty solid second unit with Koulibaly.

What kind of fee Liverpool would be looking for in exchange for Agger is unknown. The captain of the Denmark international side is 29, still in the general prime of a defender's career, and has two years left on his contract. That gives Liverpool a fair bit of leverage in any negotiations unless Agger hands in a formal transfer request. The club fended off interest from Barcelona a year ago, and reportedly rejected offers of somewhere around €18 million for Agger's services.

That said, after a year of injuries and iffy form, it'd be easy to see a lower fee for Agger, though how much lower is obviously unknown. It would also be easy to see Napoli preferring a Michu-esque loan for Agger, with a loan fee up front and an option to buy next summer. That wouldn't be a terribly attractive option for Liverpool, however, especially with a similar deal for Lucas Leiva still supposedly under negotiation right now.

It's obviously still far too early to do much more than speculate on any potential deal, but it's interesting to think about. Agger would be a great addition to Napoli's squad if such a move were to materialize, and would go a long ways towards the club's push for Champions League success and a Scudetto push. Now we just have to wait and see how things shake out with him and his current club, and then see what happens from there.