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I could fill out this list with names like Kyrgiakos, Paletta, or Pellegrino, but it’s not worth it. Pick two from these five, and I’m pretty sure I can guess which two it’ll be.
Daniel Agger (2006-present)
I’ll admit it. Agger’s probably my favorite Liverpool player. And I still can’t bring myself to vote for him. On his day, Agger is Liverpool’s classiest defender since Alan Hansen. Composed on the ball, capable of bringing it out of defense, quick, and one of the better headers in the current backline. It’s little coincidence that Liverpool’s best defensive spells have come when Agger’s been fit. Which is also his main problem – Agger’s been far too injury-prone since his arrival, only featuring in 87 games since arriving in 2006.
Jamie Carragher (1997-present)
Goals: 5 (6 if we count Boro last year)
You know the routine. A Jack-of-All-Trades – centerback, left back, right back, and defensive midfielder – before Benitez arrived, he’s now the archetypal Scouser and the cornerstone of the team. The captain without the armband. Juventus and Chelsea at Anfield, and Istanbul, among many, many others. In four games, he’ll be the ninth Liverpool player to make 600 appearances, with an excellent shout to finish second all-time behind Ian Callaghan. 'We all dream of a team of Carraghers' doesn't come close to covering it.
Stephane Henchoz (1999-2004)
Thank Blackburn for getting relegated after ’98-99, allowing Henchoz to leave for only £3.5m. His partnership with Hyypia was one of the smartest things Houllier did (along with developing Owen and Gerrard). Now best, and unfairly, remembered for keeping Carra out of the center, Henchoz was a typically reliable defender, and the Henchoz/Hyypia pairing helped turn the corner from the ‘all offense, no defense’ Roy Evans days.
Sami Hyypia (1999-2009)
One paragraph won’t do him justice. We’ve missed Sami this season. Cost £2.5m, started for nearly 10 straight seasons. A former captain whose won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, two FA Cups, two Carling Cups, two Super Cups, and two Charity Shields. Countless crucial goals, including those against Juventus and Arsenal in Europe. Just an absolute colossus – the term Shankly used to describe Ron Yeats, and one I bet Shanks would approve of for Sami.
Martin Skrtel (2008-present)
Almost didn’t make the list despite 65 appearances because of the class in front of him. But that’d be a disservice to Skrtel. With Agger out for almost all of ’07-08, Skrtel was bought in January – a then-record fee of £6.8m for a defender. By that point, Liverpool were out of the title race, having conceded the most goals in any of Benitez’s seasons in charge. Skrtel was crucial, utterly crucial, in solidifying the defense; Liverpool lost a lead, and dropped points, in five games before the Slovakian arrived. That only happened once after Skrtel signed. We haven’t seen enough progress since then, with Agger reclaiming his spot, but given Skrtel’s age, there’s undoubtedly more to come.