Sakho, Mamadou Sakho, A lot of people love him, some hate him, And even if you have seen my various tweets, heaping praise on the Parisian, I’m still very undecided on him. Is he the centre-half that Liverpool Football Club need? Or does he need replacing?
First of all let’s look at his good points, the man is a consistent and reliable passer at the back. Yes, he might not be pulling off Iniesta-esque passes, but he gets the job done. If we look at Squawka, the man has an average pass success rate for this season of 88%, which is considerably higher than a lot of other quality centre-halves in the league, such as Toby Alderweireld and Daley Blind.
The thing that is surprising about this stat, is the fact that he is not renowned for being a ball playing centre half. A centre half that is reliable and accurate at passing, really gives confidence to the defence, and that is something we desperately need coming into the business end of the season.
Secondly the man lives and breathes everything to do with Liverpool. He will do anything for the club, that includes, putting his body on the line and that passion for the club is why I believe he is such a good centre back. He loves his football here and he plays like every game is his last.
Over the countless times I’ve seen him play he has put in game winning challenges and crucial blocks. I look at him as more of an old school centre half. He is more of an old fashion centre-half. This mentality is what is needed at Anfield. There have been many occasions where we have failed to clear a ball because we insist on playing it out, sometimes putting it into row Z is what is needed. He brings a certain balance to the team, which is needed for any club.
Lastly the man is immense in the air. He is a man mountain. Seemingly able to win everything in the air. Let’s go back to my favourite website Squawka, he won 61% of his aerial duels, which may not seem impressive, however when ii comes to aerial duels, a lot of factors come into play. Where the ball is coming from, height, the pace on the ball, and some are virtually impossible to win, so that 61% sounds impressive now, doesn’t it? You’re still not convinced? I’ll compare this to some other players who have a reputation of winning the ball in the air a lot. Robert Huth (60%), Scott Dann (59%) I could go on, but I would bore you. If the whole team could follow this man’s example, we might be able to defend set pieces!
Now for his bad points. Considering how accurate his passing is, he’s not actually good on the ball. Yes, he has the odd moment where he back heels it, and manages to nutmeg the attacker (Memphis Depay, who?) but generally he’s not that good on the ball, His legs are faster than his brain, and often gets the ball stuck under his feet. Now, I’m not expecting him to dribble like Messi but as a Premier League centre-half he should be able to control the ball from point A to B. I don’t claim to be good at football but even I can do that. As my Dad says,“Watching Sakho dribble with the ball is like watching Bambi on Ice”. I honestly worry whenever Sakho takes the ball forward. It’s truly terrifying.
One other criticism of Sakho (and the last one) is his inconsistent decision making. This may be surprising because he is a man of many talents. However there have been many occasions where he’s ignored a clear forward run and opted to go back to Mignolet or when there’s a clear opportunity to head the ball out and decides to chest it down, causing issues for the team. That’s pretty much it for now, because I love the man so much.
To conclude, I believe the man is an old fashioned centre half. Very little of his game can be faulted, but his technical skills can be lacking. I love him and will never see him as a bad centre-half, regardless of how Tottenham fans abuse me for my love of Mamadou Sakho. If you happen to be a shortsighted Tottenham fan, do comment below so we can hear what you think.