Despite being left out of Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League Asia Trophy squad, Mamadou Sakho remains at Melwood as a Liverpool player, recouping his fitness in a last attempt to fight his way back into the first team, or at least attract suitors.
Infamously, Sakho has not featured for the Liverpool first team since the 4-0 win over Everton in April 2016, after failing out of favour with Klopp following a failed drugs test scandal and behavioural issues. However, many fans still advocate for his return.
With Liverpool potentially bungled pursuit of Virgil van Dijk and admission that they are not looking at other targets, Klopp’s hand may be forced and Sakho may have to be reintroduced in the upcoming season.
Following his loan move at Crystal Palace – which was cut short through injury – the France international has returned to Melwood, in high spirits and with hopes of redemption in red.
Klopp even admitted, following Liverpool’s first pre-season game against Tranmere, that once Sakho returned to full fitness, he will reassess the situation.
Sakho is still recovering from an injury sustained in April 2017 against Tottenham, which halted Klopp’s transfer plans to an extent. It’s understood that Sakho was offered to a plethora of clubs (including Palace) for around £30m, but injury meant none were willing to cough up the cash.
With a loan spell at Crystal Palace under his belt, Sakho has proved that, despite off the field issues, when it comes to match day, Liverpool already have a defender capable of dominating in the air and on the deck. Able to pass out from the back should needs be, as well as take on the more agricultural elements of defending, he would be an asset to a Liverpool team that was lacklustre defensively last season, conceding 42 goals in total.
Sakho helped Palace to four clean sheets in his eight appearances with the club. His role in defence well and truly galvanised a faltering team, as they went on to win 16 points out of a possible 24 when he played. Arguably, his best game was in a 1-2 defeat of champions Chelsea, where he had a record of 100% tackles won, as well as nine clearances and an 89% passing accuracy.
With Liverpool’s defensive frailties demonstrated a multitude of times last season, the addition of another centre back must provide not only squad depth, but added quality. Lovren remains suspect to a mistake. There is no doubt that Van Dijk would add quality, but as proven this summer, selling within the league and strengthening the opposition comes with a hefty price tag.
With the Van Dijk deal dancing on a knife edge and Sakho looking motivated and almost back to full fitness, he could play a pivotal role once again for Liverpool. Sakho was an integral part of getting Liverpool to the Europa League final against Sevilla in 2016, and having demonstrated his qualities at Palace, he should be given another chance.