After Liverpool’s incredible victory over Inter Milan on Tuesday, the headlines were dominated by praise for Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano. This has been a regular occurrence throughout this season and I do not dispute that these three players have been awesome and fully deserving of all the praise they consistently receive. However there is a player who has been giving fantastic efforts for Liverpool for the last ten years and he has been especially impressive this season. I am of course referring to Sami Hyypia who has been superb and he had another terrific game in the San Siro on Tuesday night. Once again Sami has been largely ignored in the media and I thought it was time to put that right.
At the beginning of this season Sami was expected to be playing mostly as cover for Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, whenever they needed a rest. I expected him to mostly play in the domestic cup competitions and during busy periods such as over Christmas and New Year. When Agger fractured his metatarsal in September, Sami was called into action to partner Carragher full time. At the time it was expected that Agger would be back within a couple of months but when he re-injured it in training it has turned out that he’s now been out for five months.
I admit I was very concerned that Sami would not be able to step in full time because of his age. At 34 years old Sami is now in the twilight of his career and I did not believe he would be able to handle playing virtually every game. I was wrong and so were those that considered him past his best. Sami has stepped in and played thirty six games so far this season, and in all of those games he has rarely made any mistakes and has popped up with three goals so far.
If it hadn’t been for the goals of Torres, I would suggest Sami as my choice for the player of the season. He has defied his age and he has proved that you don’t need to have a lot of pace when you have intelligence. Sami has the ability to think a few moves ahead which gives him vital extra seconds in a defensive situation.
Since the arrival of Martin Skrtel in the January transfer window, Sami has been able to enjoy some well earned rests in the second half of the season. The encouraging displays from Skrtel have suggested he will be difficult to drop from the side and with Agger due back from injury very soon, it’s likely that Sami will become fourth choice at centre back. However it’s clear that Rafa still considers Sami to be an extremely important player for Liverpool. This was confirmed when he was chosen alongside Skrtel in the huge game at Inter Milan, with Carragher switched over to right back. This may be a formation we see a lot more of over the coming year, especially if all four of our centre backs are fit.
Although Sami has been linked with other clubs, Rafa has offered him a one year contract extension and made it clear that he wants him to stay. Rafa said recently;
‘œI spoke with Sami and showed him our interest. He is a very good professional.
“It is not just about his experience, it is about him being a good player. He has played a lot of games this season, and the idea for next season is that he can play and fight for his place.
“This will be good for us. One of the positive things is that, because he is a good professional and has a lot of experience, he can give the other players advice.
“But I also think he can fight for a position against the younger players. He has been an amazing servant for this club.
“When you see a foreign player playing for the same team for 10 years, everyone must be really pleased.’
I am sure that Sami will sign the contract extension and I really do hope that he does. I fully agree with the comments from Rafa, I think that Sami still has a lot to offer the club and in fact I hope that Sami stays with the club after he retires from playing. He has more than earned a position thanks to his decade of service (some of which as club captain), and Liverpool FC will be a far poorer club without him in it. Daniel Agger has spoken many times about how much Sami has helped him develop his game since he arrived at Anfield and I cannot think of anybody better to assist in the future development of defenders for many years to come.