Mamadou Sakho has suffered a confusing fate so far this season. After routinely being passed over each week in favour of the mostly inferior Dejan Lovren, the French centre back found himself not only back in Brendan Rodgers' line-up against Bordeaux on Thursday but wearing the captain's armband in his home country to boot. Sakho followed up by signing a new contract this week, extending his stay on Merseyside until 2020.
To outsiders, it was a curious turn of events. Rumours abounded that Sakho must have been promised a regular spot in the starting line-up or some other type of assurance as to having a prominent future as one of Liverpool's centre backs, especially in a season leading up to a Euro hosted by France. But after Liverpool's draw against Norwich on Sunday, Rodgers intimated that it was fitness, not any kind of anti-Sakho conspiracy, that has kept the koala enthusiast out of the line up until now.
"He was excellent in the week," Rodgers extolled. "The thing with Mama has been about keeping him fit and making sure he is at a peak level of fitness to play the games. That was always something that was a concern but he's worked very, very hard on that aspect of his game and I think he's come back into the team in the week and today and was excellent."
One might imagine that one way to gain fitness in order to get back to full match fitness would be to, you know, get some playing time. Whatever the reason for Sakho's previous absence from the team sheet each week — be it fitness or conspiracy — it seems that he's now adequately fit for his manager's needs. After a performance like the one he gave against Norwich, there's little reason for Brendan Rodgers to demote Sakho to the bench again for anything but early round domestic cup matches.