Martin King assesses why Mamadou Sakho should be given a second chance by Liverpool after doping scandal.
In football, it’s not easy to defend a player who is found guilty of going against the rules. Unfortunately, Liverpool fans and managers have found themselves having to deal with those kind of players more than once over the past few seasons with the latest man to put himself in the spot-light being defender, Mamadou Sakho.
Sakho was charged by UEFA for failing a drugs test prior to Liverpool’s Europa League round of sixteen second leg tie against Manchester United. The Frenchman has since chosen to not appeal against the charge and recently served a provisional 30-day ban.
Although he’s now free to play, after UEFA decided against extending his ban, Sakho’s future at Anfield is in doubt, however, despite it being the case it’s fair to say the defender has shown that he can be a strong player under boss Jürgen Klopp and should therefore stay at Liverpool.
Sakho made a total of 34 appearances last season. He began the campaign playing second fiddle to Martin Skrtel under Brendan Rodgers and as displeasing as one would imagine that was for him, he still managed to put in a decent performance when he was given a place in the line-up – an example being his first start of the season against Bordeaux in the group stages of the Europa League.
That game in France was the continuation of a torrid run of form that saw Liverpool record only one win in nine games and although Sakho received some game time over that period, the centre-back was struggling to make the desired impact. The Reds would eventually part ways with Rodgers.
Under Klopp, Sakho looks a player rejuvenated, the 26-year-old is gifted with strength, aerial and tackling prowess and a great passing accuracy – amongst others – and all of that has been excellently put on display under his German manager. He also managed to find the net with his head on two big occasions, first in that inspired 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in our run to the Europa League final then in the 4-0 Merseyside derby win over Everton.
With those performances, the Frenchman earned himself a place in the hearts of the fans. Every time he scores, wins a duel or pulls off a trick on the ball, you don’t even need to listen closely or crank up the volume on your television set to hear the Anfield crowd chant “Sakho! Sakho! Sakho!” – he has truly become a lovable cult hero.
There are, of course, a few Liverpool fans who may not fancy the former Paris-Saint-Germain defender and feel that he should be sold. Sakho’s inconsistencies in the past (especially this doping offence) may be the perfect foundation for anyone to build their argument on, however, is it fair to draw the line on a player who has shown a great deal of improvement over the past season, even for an offence he’s already paid for? I think not.
Liverpool’s number 17 may not be everyone’s ideal centre-back but his strong performances in the past and most recent improvement under Klopp just highlights how great a player he is for the side and how great he can continue to be under the German.
My opinion is he should be kept and given a second chance at Liverpool, remember how a certain Luis Suarez fared after he himself was handed a second (and third) chance? Look at how he turned out.
Obviously, Sakho cannot be compared to the genius that is Suarez, but with the guidance of Klopp the Frenchman can put his troubles behind him and show the world just how unconventionally talented he is.
Featured Image – L’Express