Liverpool are to open discussions over a new contract for defender Martin Skrtel.

Slovakia defender who celebrated seven years at Anfield on Monday will be offered a new deal in the next few weeks despite his current one still having 18 months to run. Skrtel will be one of the most senior members of Brendan Rodgersa squad next season, particularly following Steven Gerrarda s departure, and he is one of several players whose terms are likely to be renewed before the end of the campaign. The defender, 30, has 18 months remaining of the deal he signed in 2012, but he has been a consistent figure in the Liverpool defence over the past two years, despite a multitude of different partners. Skrtel has made no secret of how settled he is on Merseyside, saying on social media over the weekend:”Liverpool is now in my heart. It is a great honour for me to play seven years for Liverpool. Wea ve had some great moments together and I am really happy that I am part of this.”

Rodgers is looking to bring in a new goalkeeper, midfielder and striker over the next few months but Skrtel has established himself as one of the mainstays after a difficult period last season when his place and future was under question. Liverpool have come under criticism over their handling of talks with Gerrard, who said he would have signed an extension to his contract had such a deal been available last summer rather than in November. They have opened discussions with captain-elect Jordan Henderson and are close to agreeing terms with Raheem Sterling. As well as Skrtel, Liverpool have contract issues to resolve with the vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Jon Flanagan a all of whom are seen as an essential part of the cluba s future. The club are also positive that Raheem Sterling will sign new terms in the immediate future, as Rodgers pins his hopes on developing a young squad that will mature under his guidance.

Liverpool are determined to resist any offers from Inter Milan for the midfielder Lucas because they have no replacement lined up, and they do not expect any realistic moves to materialise for Mario Balotelli. Balotelli has not started a Premier League game since Liverpoola s home defeat by Chelsea on Nov 8 a when he was substituted at half-time. He has been linked with a host of Italian clubs in recent weeks but Liverpool expect he will remain until the summer.