Joseph Kavaloski explains why Liverpool will regret selling Mamadou Sakho if rumours are to be believed that his time on Merseyside is up.
This week, rumours emerged from various sources in France that Mamadou Sakho’s Liverpool career is over. The midweek matchup in the EFL Cup was a perfect opportunity for the Frenchman to gain much needed first team game time, but his lack of inclusion seems to clarify Jurgen Klopp’s intentions.
Sakho is an immensely talented player who was one of the first names on the team sheet last season, however, his transgressions since his doping ban leave Klopp with no choice but to leave him on the outskirts of the first team.
Klopp is a manager that demands a lot out of his players on and off the pitch. As some have described him in the past, the German is a “football maniac” who expects his players to display the same passion he brings to the touchline.
Unfortunately, Sakho’s lack of urgency and discipline during his recovery period this summer have left Klopp with only questions regarding Sakho’s devotion to the club. Allowing the Frenchman to easily regain his place in the first team after his poor decisions would set a bad precedent for similar situations in the future. Therefore, Klopp has had no choice but to exile the defender.
In order for Liverpool to reach the goals set for themselves, everyone needs to be in alignment with the club’s philosophies. Sakho is surely one of the best defenders at the club, but any doubts Klopp may have in this regard is full justification for allowing the player to leave.
That being said, losing Sakho in the winter or next summer would be a significant blow to the club’s defence. He may currently be nowhere near the first team, but the Reds’ already have a dearth of options at centre-back not to mention a chronic inability to keep a clean sheet.
Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are currently entrenched as the team’s first-choice centre-back partnership with Ragnar Klavan as the first defender off the bench. Behind that group, Liverpool only has Lucas Leiva—a converted midfielder—and Joe Gomez.
No European competitions may allow the Reds to get away with only three regular centre-backs, but their effectiveness is still a question. Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in their first ten league matches, three more than any other team in the top six. If the club truly wants to challenge for a title, the back line cannot continue to leak goals and Sakho could have emerged as a viable option.
Matip has excelled in the start to his Liverpool career, making Lovren the weaker link in central defence. The Croatian has miraculously recovered from his disastrous first season at Anfield, but he is still plagued by the occasional howler. When healthy and focused, Sakho is certainly a better option on the left-hand side of central defence.
Klopp likes ball-playing centre-backs and Sakho proved how he can be the perfect fit in the German’s defence. Last season, the Frenchman recorded a masterful 87.9% success rate on his passes in the Premier League—over 3% higher than Lovren.
Sakho’s ability to make incisive passes forward is similar to the forward thinking mindset Matip already displays in defence. The two would create a dynamic threat from deep that the Reds currently do not have while also providing a more assured defensive presence.
Sakho is an immensely talented player with the raw ability to succeed wherever he goes. Lovren and Matip have been effective, but they have not been able to end the Reds’ defensive woes. Selling the Frenchman would eliminate one more option that Klopp could turn to if the current defence continues to be a problem.
Sakho’s indiscretions may leave Klopp with no option but to sell, but the Reds will come to regret allowing him to leave. At 26 years old, Sakho is entering the prime of his career and still has a lot of good football ahead of him. Allowing him to enjoy this period in another shirt would be difficult especially if the Reds cannot fix their own defensive problems.