LUIS SUAREZ and Steven Gerrard are almost certain to miss Liverpool’s Europa League clash with Anzhi Makhachkala – as it emerged Martin Skrtel turned down the chance of joining the moneybags Russian side.
Both Suarez and Gerrard are expected to be among a number of senior players who will remain on Merseyside to prepare for Sunday’s crunch Premier League clash with championship-chasing Chelsea.
Liverpool fly to Moscow tomorrow ahead of the Thursday evening clash against Anzhi two points clear at the top of Group A after defeating the Russians 1-0 at Anfield a fortnight ago.
That victory, along with Udinese’s surprise defeat at Young Boys in Berne, has persuaded Brendan Rodgers to prioritise the weekend visit to Stamford Bridge with Liverpool aiming to kickstart their spluttering domestic campaign.
Dumped out of the Capital One Cup last week at home to Swansea City, the Anfield outfit have taken just 11 points from their first 10 games, their worst such record in 20 years.
Skrtel may also remain in England, but if Anzhi had their way the defender could have been lining up against Liverpool this week.
The Slovakian ended months of speculation surrounding his future by signing a new long-term contract in August.
And it has emerged big-spending Anzhi, who Brendan Rodgers’ side face in Moscow on Thursday, approached the 27-year-old as part of a recruitment drive that has already seen the capture of Samuel Eto’o, Yuri Zhirkov and Lassana Diarra.
“I recently extended my contract with Liverpool and I am very satisfied with it,” said Skrtel when questioned on Anzhi’s interest. “So, let’s just leave it at that.”
Skrtel, who previously played in Russia for Zenit St Petersburg before joining Liverpool in January 2008, believes the progress of football in the country means Anzhi can attract such leading names.
“The level of Russian football has grown incredibly, at least from the days when I played there,” he said.
“And now, big transfers which take major players to Russia, for me they are not a surprise.”