After José Fonte handed in a transfer request yesterday, Mamadou Sakho has been linked with a move to Southampton. The 33-year-old Southampton captain and Euro 2016 winner has been with the club for seven years since moving from Crystal Palace in January 2010. With only six months remaining on his contract, the reliable central defender looks set to leave this month.
Five clubs were seen as potential destinations for Sakho in the January transfer window, but now a sixth can be added. The 26-year-old could link up with everyone's favourite Premier League central defender of the moment, Virgil van Dijk. Reports from France believe that a move is a possibility, but there is nothing firm beyond the customary interest and monitoring.
If Southampton were to lose the influential Fonte, securing a replacement would be an undoubted priority. Liverpool have bought numerous players—the latest being the explosive and productive Sadio Mané—from the south coast club in recent seasons, ensuring that there should be a good relationship between the two Premier League sides. If there was genuine interest in Sakho, it would be one that would benefit all parties regardless of whether it was a permanent deal or a loan.
Sakho would get regular minutes at a well-run Premier League club alongside a top central defensive partner and possesses the personality, leadership, and experience to replace Fonte. Even a loan would give Sakho a real opportunity to show what he can do, alerting other clubs to his talents in the summer. Liverpool either receive a reasonable fee or benefit from a fine stage for an unwanted player to secure a move in the summer. The better Sakho does, the more valuable he becomes.
There is the possibility that Van Dijk moves in the middle of the season, but there would be little sense in letting two key central defenders depart in the space of a few weeks. Wages could be a barrier to completing a deal, but at this stage, Southampton are clearly the pick of the top flight English teams linked with the French international. There may need to be some compromise, but this doesn't appear to be a ludicrous or unbelievable transfer rumour.
Sakho has no future under Klopp after being sent home from the pre-season tour of the United States, but a move to Southampton could be an interesting prospect. Claude Puel is a good manager with solid defenders at his disposal, and although Southampton endured a torrid festive schedule with three straight defeats, they remain in the top half of the table. There's also an EFL Cup semi-final against Liverpool to look forward to, which could boast an intriguing subplot if Sakho lines up against his former club.