It is almost certain that Mamadou Sakho will leave Liverpool in the January transfer window after Jürgen Klopp made it clear that the 26-year-old is not part of the senior squad ahead of the trip to Bournemouth on Sunday. Unless Sakho wants to continue to play for the under-23s for the rest of the season, he will have to leave Anfield.
When Klopp said that he wasn't selling any of his first-team squad players next month, that didn't include Sakho. It seems that being sent home from the US tour was the beginning of the end for the French international. Although he rejected chances to leave in the summer and on deadline day, he hasn't made a single appearance for the senior team so far this season.
Joël Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, and Lucas Leiva are all ahead of a player with nearly 300 senior appearances for both Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool along with 28 caps for France. Liverpool have had a strong campaign so far without Sakho, and if being banished from the first-team squad wasn't enough, Klopp eliminated any doubt about Sakho's status.
“Of course he is not involved in this (first team squad) but you ask again,” Klopp said bluntly. “You should have know it before that he is not involved in this sentence, but then you try it to create a story.
“Now you know, I said it: he is not in these plans for the first team. The first team squad is here (at the training ground). You know all this. Do you really think I would have said Sakho will not be sold in winter? You don't have to check, you knew it before. Now you can use it as you want.
“Once again this actual first-team squad is in this dressing room, from this point of view nobody will be sold.”
Sakho aired his concerns about how he was treated by Klopp via social media in September, an ill-advised move that drew a prickly but measured response from the Liverpool manager. The situation, however, would not change. By late October, a report by L'Equipe that the charismatic defender "no longer exists in Klopp's eyes" pointed the way to a January exit.
Klopp's words may be harsh, but now there is no ambiguity with four weeks to go before the January transfer window opens. Liverpool have an experienced and capable defender for sale in spite of his wishes to remain at the club. Sakho may have been a cult hero at Liverpool but is simply not wanted by a manager who has earned the trust of players, fans, and owners.
Matip and Lovren have built a fine partnership this season, Klavan and Lucas have been able deputies, and Liverpool have been winning games. There's no compelling reason for Klopp to even begin to reconsider his decision when Liverpool are thriving in Sakho's absence, a bitter fact that is probably not lost on the player and his representatives.
Despite the fact that Sakho is an excellent defender and leader, he will need to find a new club to actually play senior football again. A departure will also provide Sakho with the opportunity to show Didier Deschamps that he can still be counted on for his country, but there is fierce competition from Aymeric Laporte, Laurent Koscielny, Raphaël Varane, Eliaquim Mangala, Samuel Umtiti, and Adil Rami.
The question now surrounds whether a temporary or permanent move will be agreed next month. For all concerned, it is better that a solution is found to what appears to be an increasingly unfortunate state of affairs.