By Charlie Scott
As a centre-back who combines a formidable defensive presence with an ability to play the ball out of the back, as well as chip in with the occasional goal, Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin seems an ideal replacement for Daniel Agger if Manchester City secure the signing of Liverpool's great Dane.
Godin started his career at his native club Cerro as a 17-year-old, making 39 league appearances over the course of three seasons for the Montevideo-based side before being snapped up by one of the Primera Division's top teams, Nacional, in 2006. During his spell at Cerro, he also made his international debut for Uruguay, starting in the friendly against Mexico in October 2005.
|ROCK AT THE BACK
|GODIN'S 2011-12 STATS
An offer of £700,000 was enough to take the player from Uruguay to Spain, and in July 2007, Godin signed a five-year contract with El Submarino Amarillo. He slotted straight into the first-team at El Madrigal, featuring in 25 league matches during the 2007-08 campaign as they achieved their highest ever Liga finish, ending the season as runners-up to Fabio Capello's Real Madrid side.
The Uruguayan made 107 appearances for Villarreal during his three-year spell at the club, before his outstanding displays for his national side at the 2010 World Cup alerted Europe's elite clubs to his ability.
A number of Italian sides including the likes of Inter and AC Milan were reported to be interested in Godin following the World Cup but it was Atletico Madrid who eventually emerged the victors in the race to secure his signature, as the defender joined the capital side in August 2010 for a fee of around £7 million.
Godin struggled in his first season at Atletico, joining the club on the back of a full season with Villarreal, and a lengthy run at the 2010 World Cup with Uruguay. Los Colchoneros missed out on qualification for the Champions League after finishing in a disappointing 7th place in La Liga in the 2010-11 season.
In the last campaign his performances improved dramatically, particularly following the arrival of Diego Simeone at the Vicente Calderon in December 2011.
Whereas before, under the previous boss Gregorio Manzano, the defence had been porous and unreliable, with Simeone at the helm, they have become formidable. Before the Argentine arrived just before Christmas, Atletico had won just five times in La Liga and had just been dumped out of the Copa del Rey by third-tier side Albacete.
|LIVERPOOL A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
"Godin arrived to Spain in 2007 from Nacional and he had the hard task of replacing Roberto Ayala. He didn't fail in becoming one of the most reliable centre-backs in La Liga, but he finally left Villarreal after some troubles with the vice-president, who once called him 'shameless'.
"In 2010 he joined Atletico Madrid, where he has also been an important defender with both Luis Perea and Alvaro Dominguez. That said, his performances have not been as regular as they were at Villarreal.
"A move to Liverpool could represent a great opportunity for Godin now, as he is still a young player, and the Uruguayan national team would of course benefit from any switch."
They finished in fifth place in La Liga, while also thrashing Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the final of the Europa League.
With his dip in form during the 2010-11 season behind him, the 26-year-old looks set to go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet, and deceptively strong and powerful in the air, the defender has all the attributes needed to succeed in the Premier League, with Manchester City, Chelsea, and now Liverpool, all having been linked with a move for the Uruguayan. Godin demonstrated his attacking prowess last season for Atletico, scoring three goals and supplying three assists over the course of his 41 appearances in all competitions.
The centre-back was integral as Simeone's side were crowned Europa League champions, appearing in 13 matches during the competition. He has experience playing in Europe for both Villarreal and Atletico, and has also proved his considerable international pedigree having represented Uruguay 45 times since making his debut in 2005.
Despite telling Marca last month that he wishes to stay at Atletico, the club themselves do not appear certain of this, with Simeone reportedly lining up Zenit St. Petersburg's Portugal international Bruno Alves as a potential replacement for Godin should he leave the Vicente Calderon during the current transfer window.
The news that his Uruguay team-mate Luis Suarez has signed a new long-term deal at Anfield could act as an incentive for the centre-back to make the switch to Liverpool from Atletico, with fellow Uruguay defender Sebastian Coates also part of the first-team squad at the Merseyside club.
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