Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva. Both extreme fan favorites, both have frustratingly struggled to carve out a long-term run of first team appearances under Brendan Rodgers. Whether due to injury, expensive new signings (ahem, Lovren), or simply falling out of favor, Sakho and Lucas enter the 2015-2016 campaign with plenty to prove.
Preseason training officially begins tomorrow, but you wouldn't know it if you were an avid follower of Sakho and Lucas on social media. Each in his unique way has demonstrated a commitment to entering the season in peak condition, or, if you prefer a cynical view, a commitment to demonstrating fitness for potential suitors. Either way, they are both raring to go ahead of the preseason tour of Thailand, Australia, and Malaysia next week.
First is Sakho, a player whose occasionally awkward passing technique leads to his being underrated and deemed poor on the ball by lazy pundits. When Daniel Agger suddenly left Liverpool last summer, fans hoped it would usher in the Sakho era. Instead, Dejan Lovren was signed, Sakho started too often on the bench, and Liverpool struggled.
A good spell when Liverpool shifted to 3 at the back notwithstanding, Sakho enters the season with an as yet unresolved standing with the manager. Fans will be pleased to know, then, that Sakho has hit the gym vigorously in preparation for this week.
Keen observers of Lucas' instagram account will know that the Brazilian is quite fond of horses, his family, and Phillipe Coutinho. As of late, though, followers have also learned that Lucas has been spending his vacation hard at work in the gym.
The delightful former Gremio man has still struggled to recapture the dominant form he exhibited two seasons ago before his serious knee injury. Nevertheless, Lucas demonstrated at points during last season that his ability to read the game is still elite, and—even if it is accompanied by less than peak explosiveness—can impact games. His training over the offseason seems to have focused on improving his first step burst, as evidenced by a myriad of videos posted to Instagram.
Supporters will be hoping that these efforts will pay off and that Sakho and Lucas will succeed in carving out more playing time in the upcoming campaign. Starting tomorrow, they will both have the chance to prove to Rodgers that they are worthy.