Click your heels three times and declare this transfer rumor bullshit.
The worst fears of Anfield’s faithful have been confirmed: Mamadou Sakho was in fact kicked off the preseason tour and sent home by Jurgen Klopp himself, and not, as was initially claimed, under the doctor’s orders.
Injured teammates Joel Matip, Lucas Leiva and Joe Gomez have all remained with the first team out in California despite their own knocks, so the excuse that the star center back was simply returning for further treatment on his ailing knee wouldn’t have held much water anyway.
We all had a bit of a chuckle the other day when the Frenchman interrupted an official club interview with Klopp in what appeared to be just another one of his usual social media shenanigans. However an (overly-granular and slightly paranoid) analysis of the short exchange reveals what could be interpreted as worrying signs of strain in the relationship between manager and player.
Any veteran of the sort of passive-aggressive, semi-arguments one regularly engages in with a significant other will instantly recognize the standard feints: the childish antics with the intention to irritate, the unnecessary public airing of dirty laundry, the bringing up of old transgressions unbidden, the mockingly repeated insults. A spat, this may officially well be.
However, the fault certainly lies with Sakho here. As one of the only natural leaders in the squad, this incident, as well as holding up the team plane to California with his tardiness as Klopp alluded to in the video, and whatever else the 26-year old may have done to merit his dismissal, is unbefitting of a player who many, including some of us here at TLO, have tipped to challenge for the captain’s armband in the not-too-distant future.
Even so, one might have expected that a confrontation between these two in particular would have taken place at one point or another.
For one, Klopp, like all great managers, is a very complex person. The charismatic German can go from lovable, hug-dispensing teddy bear in one moment to feral, very real bear in the next. Most importantly, however, his hyper-rational philosophy towards life and football make him a very strong willed person, unafraid to go toe-to-toe with any challenger of his rightful domain.
Meanwhile Sakho, as captain of one the biggest clubs in the world in Paris Saint-Germain at the tender age of 17, can reasonably be assumed himself to also be accustomed to throwing his weight around and having people make way.
So let’s hope that that’s all this is: two strong-willed individuals, one testing his boundaries, the other reestablishing his authority, and not, as those desperate for clicks and likes have already begun to whisper, the beginning of the end of what could be a lucrative partnership.
These sorts of things happened all the time when we weren’t walking around with HD cameras in our pockets, operated by people who do naught but stare blankly when asked to define the difference between a public moment and a private one.
Go home, tend to your missus, lick the wounds to your body and ego and get ready for the season, Mr. Sakho. There won’t be a comeback against this German.