After a few seasons of rotation and reshuffling and uncertainty at the back, Liverpool thought they had found their centre half pairing in recent months, as Mamadou Skaho and Dejan Lovren set themselves apart as the club’s best defensive duo while the club’s form surged in the league and Europe.
Recent news that Sakho wouldn’t be selected while UEFA investigates a failed drug test has rather ended that, and with an important Europa League semi-final against Villarreal just a few days away. Win that tie over two legs and Liverpool are through to the final. Win that third game and they’re back in the Chamions League.
Already without in the in form Divock Origi at striker and with Jürgen Klopp’s first choice midfield pairing, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson, both out injured, Liverpool now know they will need to do that without one of their top defenders as well. The question now is who steps in for Sakho over the next few weeks?
Lucas Leiva might seem a good answer to many, given he’s filled in at the back to good effect earlier in the year, including putting in a man of the match performance in a loss on penalties to Manchester City in the League Cup final. The only problem there is that with Henderson and Can out, he’s likely needed in midfield.
There’s a chance, though, that Klopp could put Joe Allen and James Milner together in the double pivot with Lucas behind them, so Lucas at centre half against Villarreal isn’t out of the question. If it’s not Lucas, though—and many would rather a natural centre half to begin with—the options seem fairly straight forward.
Those options would be Martin Skrtel, former presumptive starter who has struggled with injury and form in 2016, and the aging Kolo Toure. Both, on their game, can certainly do a job there. Skrtel’s form and Toure’s struggles when asked to play regular minutes, though, mean that there are question marks surrounding both.
It’s far from an easy, straightforward situation. And that’s why we want you to vote and tell us who you would pick as first choice centre half alongside Dejan Lovren over the coming month.