Liverpool will head into the summer knowing they need to bring in a starting-calibre centre half. They will head into the summer knowing that even if Jürgen Klopp rates Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren as his starting duo, the two have struggled with injuries too often this season not to have another top defender in the mix.
Liverpool also head into the summer knowing that they will try to recoup £30M, or starting-calibre centre half money, by permanently dealing Mamadou Sakho, a player who could have helped the Reds this season but who has instead ended up frozen out and shipped to Crystal Palace on loan, where he has impressed.
"It's a shame what happened at Liverpool," said former U23 manager Michael Beale, now an assistant with Sao Paolo and the man who because Sakho's main contact at Liverpool in the autumn when the French international was frozen out of the first team picture following his unfortunate pre-season tension with Klopp.
"Both parties have lost," Beale continued. "Sakho is playing for a club he is too good to play for. Everyone is looking for a left-footed centre half. If it is to be that he leaves Liverpool, he won't be short of offers. It will be sad if there cannot be some form of reconciliation, because I think Liverpool still need him."
There's a solid argument to be made that if Sakho had been part of the first team picture this season, Liverpool would have already all but locked up Champions League football for next season. And Beale thinks if he'd faced Sevilla last season, they'd have had it this year—and that maybe that is part of the problem.
"If Sakho was able to play against Sevilla in the Europa League final, Liverpool would have won," he added. "I am sure of that. That would have changed the whole course of things at Liverpool. They would have been in the Champions League. Maybe Klopp cannot forget that. I don't know the ins and outs."
"When he first came to us at the Under-23s, I didn't really know what happened with the manager. I didn't want to know, and I said to him that as long as he respected me and the Under-23 players and staff then we wouldn't have a problem. He went well beyond that.
"From that day onwards he was getting changed in a Portakabin. He was never, ever late, and he worked his socks off. He could not have been a better professional. You are seeing the results of that work now at Palace."