Liverpool seal Kyrgiakos transfer

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The Independent Football

Greece international Sotirios Kyrgiakos has completed his transfer to Liverpool and signed a two-year contract.

The 30-year-old today passed a medical to finalise his switch from AEK Athens, and will go straight into the squad for Monday's Barclays Premier League home match against Aston Villa at Anfield.

He is likely to partner Jamie Carragher in the heart of defence, taking the place of teenager Daniel Ayala who made his full debut in Wednesday's 4-0 win over Stoke.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is without two key defenders through injury.

Danish centre-back Daniel Agger will have an operation on his back in Germany on Tuesday, and will be out for six weeks.

Martin Skrtel is still struggling with a damaged jaw, sustained at Tottenham last weekend, and is not expected to be fit to face Villa.

Benitez has been searching for defensive cover for weeks, having tried to sign Ryan Shawcross and Michael Turner. He was also linked this week with West Ham's Matthew Upson.

But Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are believed to have put the block on any further major signings, meaning that Benitez has had to search for the cheaper options.

He has snapped up Kyrgiakos for £2million, and said of his latest signing: "He has had experience in Scotland with Rangers, and in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt as well as with the Greek national side.

"He is strong and good in the air, and we were looking for experience and he is the perfect answer."

Kyrgiakos, who has been capped 50 times by Greece and will be unveiled to the media tomorrow, described his decision to move to England as "the biggest challenge of my career".

The tough-tackling defender moved back to Greece in 2008 after one season at Rangers and two with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Benitez maintains that Kyrgiakos will be an excellent signing for the Reds, saying: "He is a tough defender who is strong and good in the air.

"He has a strong character and we were looking for these things.

"He can score goals and will be a threat from corners and free-kicks. He is very strong in defence but he will need time as always to settle into the Premier League. He will be a very good signing for us.

"We knew the player when he was with Rangers and we've been watching videos of him at Frankfurt and the national team. Our scout department had a lot of information.

"We have talked about the things he has done before and the things he will have to do for us. It was good. He knows what we want and he's ready to work."

Benitez claims the acquisition of Kyrgiakos will be of benefit to young defenders such as Martin Kelly and Ayala.

He said: "It will be positive. I was talking with Ayala about this. When the young players see someone with experience it is positive because they can learn from them.

"It also means they have more time. If they have to play some games they can but they are not under pressure."

Kyrgiakos' arrival will alleviate Benitez's injury problems in defence.

Benitez is still hopeful that Agger could return before too long.

He said: "If everything goes well it won't take too much time, maybe a few weeks."

Benitez confirmed he will make a late decision on the fitness of Skrtel ahead of Monday's match against Villa.

The Slovakian is still recovering following a clash of heads with Jamie Carragher against Tottenham, and missed the midweek game with Stoke.

Benitez said: "He is training. We had to decide on Wednesday about him, but it was too soon to take any risks. Okay, we'll see on Monday."

One player who will be fit despite requiring stitches to his eyebrow after a collision in the win over Stoke is striker Fernando Torres.

Benitez added: "He has some stitches but he is okay. He is training with his team-mates and I think he will be okay for Monday."

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