EXCLUSIVE: Family loyalties may mean Liverpool would be the preferred destination of the rugged Denmark centre-back, although he is open to any challenge
By Robin Bairner
Lille centre-back Simon Kjaer has admitted that he would love to take the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League.
The 25-year-old has starred at Stade Pierre-Mauroy for Rene Girard’s side for close to 18 months and has established himself in a defence that has earned the reputation as being one of the most redoubtable in Europe.
Although he is not pushing to leave the north of France, he has confessed it would be hard to turn down a move to England.
“I am not in a hurry to leave France. My family and I enjoy living in Lille, and I enjoy playing for LOSC,” he said.
“But, at 25, I have to plan for the best years of my career and England could very well be my next destination.
“I’ve considered a move to England before, but next summer it could happen.”
While there might be some gentle pressure from his Liverpool-supporting family that may push him towards Anfield, Kjaer, who was previously linked with Tottenham and Arsenal when at Palermo, does not hold a particular club preference otherwise.
“It’s not a secret that my family are Liverpool fans, and a move to Liverpool would make my family happy. But they support me more than they support anything else, so they are happy where ever I go – as long as I am happy,” the Denmark star explained.
“And I am a player not a fan. So I would choose the club that is the best place for me to play my football – and where my family would be happy.
“It is always nice to hear about big clubs being interested, but I won’t concentrate on any other club than Lille right now.”
The Dane certainly has no regrets about his transfer in the summer of 2013 from Wolfsburg to Lille and believes that France offers players an ideal schooling before moving to England.
“I believe that the French Ligue 1 is a good stepping stone for anybody for a move to the Premier League.
“You see a lot of players crossing The Channel to play in England, and I understand why. In many ways the style of Ligue 1 is much more physical than in some of the other big leagues, and it would be more difficult going from the Serie A to Premier League, because the style of play is very different.
“But I work hard every day to improve everything in my game – it is in my nature never to be satisfied and always wanting to better myself.”
Kjaer explained that he thrives upon testing himself against the best and is looking forward to facing Everton’s forwards in Thursday evening.
“I go into every game to prove myself – whether it’s in Ligue1, or a Euro 2016 qualifier for Denmark against Cristiano Ronaldo like in our last international, or this game against Everton and top class players like Samuel Eto’o and Romelu Lukaku. The bigger the challenge, the more I enjoy it.
“At 25 I am focused on working hard and developing myself continuously before the best years of my career. I always enjoy facing the best names in the game.
“Obviously there are great players at Everton and in the Premier League in general.
“The Europa League is a nice stage to play on but I would really cherish the opportunity to play Champions League. I loved playing at the World Cup of 2010 and Euro 2012, and this would offer a similar challenge.”
If has been a difficult start to the season at Lille, who presently lie 12th in the French top flight, having notably struggled to score goals.
“It has been frustrating for all of us at LOSC,” Kjaer admitted. “Last season we had this feeling of being almost unbeatable, but we have lost that feeling and our rhythm because of injuries and the sale of last season’s top scorer [Salomon] Kalou.
“When a player gives you 16 or 17 league goals per season, you miss him when he’s gone.
“We haven’t scored enough goals, and we have lost the balance in the team, so we are also letting in more goals for the moment. We have kept six cleansheets in the league, and that is a proof of good defending, but we are struggling a bit to find our top form right now.
“Defensively we had a great game and another cleansheet against Everton [two weeks ago], and if we repeat that performance and then add a bit going forward, we could get a good result at Goodison Park.”
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