This has not been the most straightforward of seasons for Mamadou Sakho. Coming off the back of a terrific World Cup performance, the French central defender found himself out of favor and injured on Merseyside, with summer signing Dejan Lovren preferred by Brendan Rodgers and fitness yet again proving an issue when playing time might have been afforded. Things hit a fever pitch when he left ahead of the Merseyside derby after not being named in the matchday squad, and his subsequent injury gave way to further specualtion about his future. For a player with Sakho's pedigree, it was a confusing and concerning twist, and one that many assumed would be the beginning of the end of his Liverpool career.
But Lovren's continued implosion combined with a return to full health for the 24-year-old, and since the opportunities have arrived, Sakho has taken them without hesitation, quickly becoming Liverpool's most commanding defender and firmly placing himself among the first names on the team sheet. Brendan Rodgers' explanation of the player's return might have been self-serving, but there's little to quibble with about the results, which Sakho continued to produce on Saturday afternoon against Aston Villa.
The three-man backline has largely been a success, and the play of Sakho and Emre Can, who's done wonderfully in his own right in what started as an emergency deployment, has been a significant part of the recent stability in Liverpool's defense. At Villa Park, Sakho had it all on display, showing plenty of guile and steel at the back and getting the ball forward when possible.
It was, in short, a quintessential Mamadou Sakho display, the likes of which we'll hopefully be able to witness for years to come.
Video by MrBoywunder