This time a year ago, Mamadou Sakho was Liverpool’s first choice centre half. A fan favourite and, to all appearances, a favourite of manager Jürgen Klopp. Then, false accusations of doping sidelined him during the most important stretch of the season, and though he was cleared of the charges, his Liverpool career has never recovered.
He returned for pre-season but quickly picked up an injury and ran afoul of Klopp for proving a distraction and negative influence on the squad. While everyone else was busy with three-a-day training sessions, Sakho, frustrated at having been sidelined following his return, resorted to being the class clown. It signalled the end for him.
The club’s attempts to loan Sakho out in the summer failed, the player determined to stay and prove his worth. At the time, it seemed reasonable—it’s hard, after all, to fault a player willing to risk his career to stay and fight for his place. In retrospect, though, it was clearly the wrong call. A call that has, belatedly, been rectified.
Sakho today joins Crystal Palace, who will cover the player’s entire wages and supply Liverpool with a £2M loan fee for just a half-season of the defender’s services. It’s not the permanent deal that the club was hoping for, but for Sakho at least it is a chance at regular first team football for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Sakho arrived on Merseyside in 2013 as the most highly regarded young French centre half for a hefty £18M fee and quickly became a fan favourite for both his efforts on the pitch and his generous nature off it. In his first three seasons at the club he made 80 total appearances, a number limited by his sometimes injury-prone nature.
With Liverpool failing to attract any offers meeting their £20M valuation, Sakho temporarily joins a Crystal Palace side that sits 18th in the league, two points from of Swansea and safety. Relegation is a genuine possibility for Palace, though at least for Sakho, after a year spent mostly sidelined, he will get to play football again.