Upon Daniel Agger's right knuckles, the letters YNWA; on his upper arm, "Memento Mori", Latin for "remember you will die". There's a paradox in these tattoos, as permanent ink pledges allegiance to a badge that Agger cannot wear forever, to a Liverpool career that must die eventually.
On the heels of a wonderful 2011-12 campaign, a new contract, and that brilliant four-lettered tattoo, it seemed obvious that Agger would be the first choice center back at Anfield for a long time if he resisted the advances of Manchester City and later Barcelona. Confident in Brendan Rodgers and steadfastly loyal to Liverpool, Agger stuck around, but just two years later he finds himself outside of Liverpool's longterm plans.
In theory, Agger fits Rodgers' tactical style - he's a good passer for a center back and possesses the ability to glide forward. However, a wide range of obstacles have made the union between Rodgers' philosophy and the Denmark captain imperfect.
There are the old criticisms that still gnaw at Agger - too weak, too fragile. These outcries, which were dormant for years, have resurfaced. He has been injured multiple times this season, an unfortunate relapse to the days when injuries defined his career. More concerning is that Agger looked feather-like against Swansea, his inability to deal with Bony's physicality the cause of his early exit from the match. If he can't deal with strong strikers, it's going to be hard for Agger to maintain the trust of Rodgers, especially since his marking skills have also deteriorated somewhat.
Still under the age of 30, there's no doubt that Agger can return to top class form. However, even at his best, Agger is blockaded from a healthy starting eleven. His left footed-ness keeps him out because it's unlikely that he'll be used by Rodgers alongside Mamadou Sakho, who is also a lefty. Sakho is set to anchor Liverpool's back line for years to come and he's not going anywhere, so Agger's will be a back up center back going forward. With the wages he receives and the potential money Liverpool could fetch by selling him, there's a decent chance that he'll leave this summer. After all, this will likely be the last chance for the club to get a big return on Agger since he hits 30 next December. The presence he would bring to additional European games next year and the depth he provides is valuable, but it's easy to see Rodgers wanting to sell him to free up money for a more pressing need than back up central defender.
The Agger situation is pretty much a win-win for Liverpool. Either they retain a top of the line backup center back for next season or they free up money to find quality players in other positions. Liverpool are likely open to selling Agger, but they won't be forced to do so at a discount.
It isn't fun writing any of this about one of my favorite players, especially since he still has the ability to play at a high level. He's always thrown his body around for Liverpool, stayed when others left, and when healthy, played some awesome football. Everything good ends I guess, Memento Mori. Agger has always played like his career is finite, passionately enjoying each moment he's played for Liverpool. Back in 2012, he said in an interview for the club website, "I'm not a fan of looking into the future. I take every day as it comes, but I work hard every day and try to achieve the goals I want to. It's important everybody is focused to achieve those goals." It's that simple dedicated drive that makes Daniel Agger, the man of the YNWA tattoo and the immutable spirit, such a likable player. His Liverpool career may die, but the passion engraved on his knuckles will live on. So will this: