By Wayne Veysey

25th Mar, 2015 | 3:00pm

Martin Skrtel opens contract talks with Liverpool as club plan to keep defender until 2017

EXCLUSIVE | By Merseyside correspondent Cam Downes
Martin Skrtel has opened talks with Liverpool about signing a new contract.
The Slovakia international is in discussions with the club chiefs about signing a deal that will tie him to Anfield beyond his current agreement, which expires in the summer of 2016.

Sources have told Football Insider that the Merseysiders have indicated they will offer Skrtel, who turned 30 last December, a new two-year contract starting from the end of the season.
This would tie the defender to the club until the summer of 2017, by which time he will be 32.
Liverpool’s desire to keep Skrtel is a boost for the player as he learned on Wednesday that he will serve a three-match ban after an independent FA disciplinary panel rejected his appeal against a violent conduct charge for standing on David de Gea in the final seconds of Liverpool’s 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United on Sunday.
Skrtel will miss the Premier League games at Arsenal (4 April) and against Newcastle United (13 April), plus the FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn Rovers (8 April).
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has sanctioned an extension for the Slovakian following the growing success of his central role in a three-man defensive system that has transformed the team’s fortunes this season.
Skrtel has 15 months remaining of the deal he signed in 2012, but Liverpool want to tie him down as he is highly regarded at the club for his reliability and consistency. Only Simon Mignolet (43) and Jordan Henderson (42) have made more than Skrtel’s 41 starts in all competitions this season.
The 30-year-old will be one of the most senior members of Rodgers’s squad next season, particularly following Steven Gerrard’s departure, having moved to Merseyside in January 2008 from Zenit St Petersburg.

Skrtel has made no secret of how settled he is on Merseyside, saying on social media earlier this year: “Liverpool is now in my heart. It is a great honour for me to play seven years for Liverpool. We’ve had some great moments together and I am really happy that I am part of this.”
As well as Skrtel, Liverpool have contract issues to resolve with the vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan – all of whom are seen as an essential part of the club’s future.