Michael Mongie discusses how Mamadou Sakho still has a future at Liverpool but has a lot to do to make his way back into Jürgen Klopp’s good books.
When Liverpool signed Mamadou Sakho in 2013 there was much hype surrounding the purchase of the Parisian. Naturally, this was due to fans assuming a position of expert opinion on the former Paris Saint-Germain player even though it’s likely that most supporters had not seen Sakho play until his Premier League debut against Swansea City. Many fans were put off by the Frenchman’s awkward, gangly gait which seemed to affect the way he passed the ball.
3 years on and he is, undisputed, the club’s most talented centre-back. However, as Liverpool have become accustomed to, talent on Merseyside seems to come with a price. Fernando Torres with his awe-inspiring ability came with a lack of loyalty which saw supporters burn his shirt upon his departure to Chelsea. Luis Suarez, and his unfathomable genius, brought with him a whole bunch of crazy which was amusing and even entertaining, but often damaging. Raheem Sterling is one of the fastest footballers to play for the club in recent years but his decision to trade Manchester for Liverpool has resulted in the 20-year old being branded a ‘snake’ by those who once cherished him.
It seems as though Sakho, who is as loyal to Liverpool as one could be without being born in the city itself, brings as much drama to Liverpool as Torres, Sterling and – okay, maybe not as much as Suarez, but still a lot.
After being left out of the match day squad for the Merseyside derby in September 2014, Sakho stormed out of Anfield prompting rumours that he was skating on thin ice with Brendan Rodgers. As per usual, the media completely blew the incident out of proportion and Sakho apologized on social media immediately for his inappropriate behaviour.
Last season, as we are all well aware of, Sakho tested positive for ‘fat burners’ during a random drugs test by UEFA after Liverpool’s Europa League success at Old Trafford. The French international was then suspended for 30 days, which we now know was his decision, but he missed the remainder of Liverpool’s season and could have been an asset to the side in the face of the club’s failure to win the Europa League at the last hurdle. His irresponsibility cost the team big-time and it could be said he suffered the consequences by being unable to feature in two separate European finals in a matter of months.
More recently, Sakho was sent home from the club’s tour of the United States. According to the Liverpool Echo, the former Paris Saint-Germain man was distracting his teammates during the club’s tour and Jürgen Klopp sent him home as a way to ensure his players maintained focused ahead of a highly important Premier League season.
According to Kristian Walsh of the Echo, Klopp has sent Sakho back to Melwood due to the fact that,”he nearly missed the departure of the plane, he missed a session and was late for a meal.” Klopp will not put up with shabbiness or a lack of disrespect for the rules that are laid out and it’s good to see the follow through after the impotence of Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool in recent years.
However it could be that Sakho might be shunted down the centre-back pecking order due to his lack of punctuality and apparent lack of professionalism shown lack of adherence to club rules on tour. Ragnar Klavan put in very pleasing displays early this morning against Chelsea in the International Champions Cup which could threaten Sakho’s position when he returns from injury.
I predict Liverpool’s season opener at Arsenal to feature a centre-back partnership of Jöel Matip and Dejan Lovren. The two have been playing together during pre-season and along with Loris Karius will have begun to form a relationship which is crucial to any fruitful defensive setup. An issue under Brendan Rodgers was that he was unable to find a consistent back five which meant that his defenders couldn’t develope good on-field relationships. As such, it seems unlikely that Klopp will throw Sakho back in once he’s fit even if there are no disciplinary issues.
Crucial to the future of Mamadou Sakho’s future at Liverpool is for the big man to find some semblance of normalcy in his career on Merseyside. When I say normalcy I mean that he doesn’t need to make a big fuss or take pills. Klopp recognises those who work hard and want to help themselves and the team and he will in turn reciprocate. If Sakho can find his way back into the team once fit and eligible he needs to work hard to stay out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons.