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Klopp Talk: Sakho Situation “Not a Problem”

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Mamadou Sakho needs to find fitness and wait for a chance, but Jürgen Klopp insists he has no problems with the centre half.

Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season, Mamadou Sakho for a time looked to be Liverpool’s best centre half, making good on the talent and the promise many fans had been convinced of since he first joined the club. More than that, after failing to convince Brendan Rodgers, he looked to have found a manager who appreciated his talents.

Six months later, the 26-year-old finds himself fifth on the centre half depth chart behind two new signings and a veteran midfielder, and that manager who for a time seemed to rate him so highly spent the final week of the summer transfer window trying to send him out on loan to Stoke City or Sunderland.

“We have to make Mama fit now,” began manager Jürgen Klopp when asked about the status of the man who six months ago many considered a lock to start this season. “The situation is you have to make decisions, you have to prepare for the situation when the window closes. You have to tell players the truth.

“Not only just with Mama. With all of the players, I told them what I thought would be the best for them. The squad is what it is. In this moment, it is about making Mama fit, which he isn’t after all this time. After that, then we will see what can happen. Mama knows this, and I know this. That is enough.”

A questionable anti-doping charge sidelined Sakho for the end of last season. In the end it was dropped; the player cleared. Yet it appears to have done potentially irreparable damage to his career. He missed the club’s biggest game of last season because of it. He also missed playing in the Euros for France.

When he returned to the club for pre-season having not played in months, he soon picked up an injury. Then, he was deemed a distraction and sent home from the club’s pre-season tour. Six months was all it took for Sakho to go from potential future captain to a veteran the club was trying to send out on loan.

Still, Klopp insists that the player knows he isn’t going to be frozen out at Liverpool this season, and that’s something that will make a great many fans happy, too. It may not be an ideal situation, and he will have to first regain fitness and then wait for a chance, but in Klopp’s own words it isn’t a problem.

“It’s not a problem,” insisted the Liverpool manager. “He doesn’t have to gain trust. It’s a situation we have spoken about, and he didn’t play football for a long time. He needs to play. That’s difficult here because the other players are fit, and we had to speak about that before the window closed—that’s what we did.

“I’m not silly enough to forget good performances. Now it’s all good. We have one more centre half, but for him he needs more time to be fit.”