Liverpool are back in the UEFA Champions League first time after the 2014-15 season. The Reds finished in the fourth-place in the Premier League, earning themselves a place in the qualifying stages of the European football’s elite competition and will have their eyes set on making it through to the group stages.
It was an eventful last season for the Merseysiders, which saw them take the league by storm at the start and establish themselves as title contenders, only for their challenge to peter out in the second half of the season, owing to injuries to key personnel and a lack of solid depth in the squad.
One of the major reasons for Liverpool’s faltering was a lack of a stable defensive partnership and that is something that the club knows will need addressing ahead of the upcoming campaign. There have been a lot of central defenders linked with a move to Anfield, but one centre-half who could be headed the other way is Mamadou Sakho.
The 27-year old has fallen out of favour with manager Jurgen Klopp, at the beginning of the last season and hasn’t featured for the Reds in over than a year now. Following an impressive loan spell at Crystal Palace in the second half of the season, however, there were calls for keeping Sakho at the club, while it has also made sure that there has been an increase in the potential suitors for the Frenchman. So, with the summer transfer window almost upon us, what should Liverpool do with Sakho? Sell him? Or give him another chance? Let’s take a look;
Rewind to 18 months back, there was little wrong that Mamadou Sakho did at Liverpool. He was the toast of the club faithful, following a series of impressive performances for the Reds, that led them to the finals of the UEFA Europa League in 2015/16. However, an official FIFA ban on the player for banned substance abuse (which was later lifted), followed by a falling out with Jurgen Klopp on the pre-season tour ahead of the 2016/17 season meant his career was derailed.
After having spent the first half of the last campaign training alone or with the reserves, a reprieve came his way when Liverpool decided to loan him out to Crystal Palace and boy did he grab that opportunity with both hands. Upon moving to the Selhurst Park, Sakho made an immediate impact, as he helped the Eagles to crucial wins over the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, helping the team to stave off relegation with some exhilarating displays in the heart of the defence – so much so that he was nominated for the club’s Player of the Year award, before a ligament injury cut his season short.
And Liverpool fans would be forgiven to think that they had a solution to their defensive woes within their ranks only, but could not make use of it. The Reds struggled with their centre-back pairing with Joel Matip the only one standing out. Dejan Lovren’s struggle for consistency and problems with injury continued while Ragnar Klavan looked badly out of depth.
They were in the market to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton to address this issue, but having pulled out of contention for the Dutchman earlier this month, they are left pondering over the right man to help fix their backline. With Sakho likely to be sidelined due to the injury until the start of the season, it is likely that the interested parties to think twice before making a move for the former PSG defender.
There are no questions that Liverpool need defensive reinforcements. And Sakho proved himself once again during his time with Palace, that he could be the answer to Klopp’s quandary. And with his injury likely to create a shortage of suitors especially with the club expecting £30 million for his services. Another loan spell may also be considered, but the Reds may well be better served if the manager and the player bury the hatchet and Sakho dons the Red colours of Liverpool again.