In January, the ongoing mystery of l’affaire Mamadou Sakho was temporarily interrupted rather than resolved. Though there were reports of suitors looking to acquire Liverpool’s other central defender on a permanent basis, it was Crystal Palace who ended up with Sakho on their roster, on loan through the end of the season and purportedly without an option for a full transfer.
After Sakho made his Palace debut against Middlesbrough, the Eagles went on a streak of sorts, recording three league victories in a row without conceding any goals in the process. This was a state of affairs that was, for the 2016-17 iteration of Crystal Palace, unusual. Unsurprisingly, there was a flurry of calls from Palace supporters pleading for the club to acquire Sakho on a permanent basis once the summer transfer window rolls around.
Since their shock victory over league leaders Chelsea, Palace have perhaps come back down to earth just a little bit, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton during the midweek fixtures. They will take on Arsenal next, in a match that should provide more evidence of whether Palace can sustain their recent momentum. If Allardyce’s squad can string together a few more big results, expect the calls for Sakho to grow louder among Palace supporters.
But what does the player himself say about his future? Speaking to Téléfoot, the defender maintained that the ultimate decision does not lie with him, and rather diplomatically indicated that he has not ruled out playing for Liverpool again.
“I was late for training, something that happens in every squad. I paid a fine and I do not know what else I can do.
It is up to the boss. He makes the decisions and I can only accept that. And we will see what happens if my future is elsewhere.
I still have a contract for three more years. If I were to wear the Liverpool jersey again, I would do it happily. If it is to be elsewhere, we will see. ”
From Liverpool’s perspective, it’s clear that the current central defender setup is less than adequate. Lucas Leiva and Ragnar Klavan have done their best to deputize when either Joël Matip or Dejan Lovren has been unavailable, but there are limits to what either player can offer as backup. Every time Klavan makes a key mistake (and there have been a few of those occasions recently), there are murmurs wondering why exactly Sakho was allowed to play elsewhere.
The true answer to that question is probably known only to Jürgen Klopp. There are rumors of Klopp charting out an aggressive summer in the transfer market, where he is likely to have a sizeable purse of funds at his disposal. Some portion of that funding will almost certainly come from outgoing player transfers. Will Sakho be part of that outgoing cohort?
Any potential suitors have already been put on notice about Liverpool’s starting £30 million valuation, so depending on how Sakho performs in the remaining weeks, we should see fairly quickly what the market thinks is reasonable value for his services. Sakho himself has also told Téléfoot that being in the picture for France’s World Cup squad is a key objective, so he will likely want to play for a club that can offer European football next season. Whether that club is Liverpool remains to be seen.