Do Liverpool Need Mamadou Sakho Back At Anfield?
Despite not playing for Liverpool in over a period of 12 months, French defender Mamadou Sakho remains the name on the lips of many fans.
The last time he was seen wearing the Red jersey for the senior team was against derby rivals Everton where he put in a masterful display to finish the game with a goal and a clean sheet. However, since then Sakho has had to endure a tumultuous year at Liverpool that included an anti-doping investigation and expulsion from Liverpool’s pre-season tour due to disciplinary issues.
Cast aside by manager Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, Sakho was forced to play for the U23s side before he secured a move to Crystal Palace in the January transfer window.
The winter window is often considered a tricky time to do business as it doesn’t allow the incoming players the time needed to bed into the new surroundings. But Palace were struggling and looked set for the drop and as a result, new manager Sam Allardyce took a chance on the Frenchman who hadn’t played senior football for quite some time back then.
Sakho has repaid the faith shown by the former England manager and has made some serious impact since his arrival. The Eagles had been torn apart by Sunderland before Stoke City condemned them to their 5th defeat in 7 games in early February and things looked gloomy for Allardyce, who had been brought in stop the arrest.
But a turnaround was on the cards and it came through the introduction of Sakho into the line-up. The former Paris-Saint Germain defender had a point to prove to many and he’s done so with some exceptional performances since making his debut appearance for Palace against Middlesbrough.
The Eagles have managed to win 5 out of the 6 games since Sakho’s inclusion into the team and have kept as many as 4 clean sheets in those 6 games. Palace have just conceded 4 times in these 6 encounters, with 3 of them coming in a single game against Southampton – the only dark spot in Sakho’s resurrected career.
The 27-year old’s performance in Palace’s surprise 2-1 win against Chelsea was one of his best games in recent memory. Having had to play with as many as 3 different defensive partners in the game due to injury problems, Sakho kept the Chelsea attack at bay, time and again. He was severely tested by Diego Costa, who had ample service from the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, but Sakho continued to repel the Spaniard and finished the game with a match-high 9 clearances and 5 interceptions, winning the Man of the Match award.
After an appalling 3-1 loss to Southampton, where Sakho looked erratic at times, he was faced with another big test in the shape of Arsenal. But the French defender bounced back with another solid display against the Gunners, helping his side to another clean sheet in the process, as the Eagles ran away as comfortable 3-0 winners at the Selhurst Park. Sakho finished the game with 3 interceptions and 7 clearances and was once again the key for Palace’s resurgent performance.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have been struggling throughout the season to find a stable defensive partnership. Joel Matip has established himself as a mainstay at the back but injuries and inconsistencies have continued to bother Dejan Lovren, while Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva are nothing more than a liability at the back for the Reds.
Quality left-sided centre-halves are a rare breed in the current market and Jurgen Klopp had one in his squad. But he opted to chastise him and force him out of the team. While the manager wasn’t wrong in doing that, as he would have lost his authority in the dressing room had he allowed free reign among the players. But Klopp also needed to look at the value that Sakho would have been able to bring to the table. Perhaps, with him in the team, maybe the Reds would have been a little closer at the top of the table.
However, Palace have hugely benefited from this situation. Sakho has made an immediate impact upon his arrival and has helped the Eagles pull away from relegation as they sit in the 16th position, 6 points clear of the drop zone.
If Sakho continues in the same vein of form until the end of the season, there will be no shortage of suitors for the Frenchman in the upcoming transfer window. Despite the situation that he finds himself in, Sakho recently said, he would be happy to don the Liverpool colours once again. Speaking to Telefoot (h/t The Mirror), the 27-year old said:
“I still have a contract for three more years. If I were to wear the Liverpool shirt again, I would be happy to do so. I was late for training, something that happens everywhere. I paid a fine and I do not know what else I can do. It is up to the boss. He makes the decisions and I can only accept that. And we will see what happens if my future is elsewhere.”
Perhaps the time has come for Klopp to realise that the Frenchman has served his penance. Sakho has shown he can be a vital player at the back for the Reds in the past and his recent resurgence with Palace is only a proof of the 27-year old’s work ethic and will to succeed.
Having him in the side for the next season would undoubtedly turn this Liverpool team into a better defensive unit. Bury the hatchet, bring him back Jurgen!