Nearing a return to action as he recovers from a thigh strain that has kept him out for ten games, Mamadou Sakho is looking to put a rocky start to the season behind him. Given Liverpool's struggles, especially at the back, it couldn't have come at a better time for the club—assuming the 24-year-old France regular is even given a chance.
"Everything I've accomplished has helped me gather experience but now I must move on and look forward," he said when asked by Champions Magazine to reflect on when, at 17, he was handed the captain's armband at PSG on his debut. "For me [leadership] comes naturally. There are different kinds of leaders—technical leaders, dressing room leaders, psychological leaders."
If there is any truth to Liverpool being a meritocracy where players are picked or dropped on merit alone, then Brendan Rodgers must be willing to give Sakho a chance to prove he belongs in the starting conversation following the international break. Dejan Lovren has had 15 matches now to justify his £20M price-tag and so far failed miserably. Now it must be Sakho's turn.
"I'm still in my learning phase," said Sakho. "I'll start to open up even more because when you [arrive and] you don't speak a language well enough it's difficult to show your character, difficult to communicate. But it will come, little by little. I've improved my English. I understand a lot better, especially the local Scouse accent. I'm still working."
Sakho captained his old club and has captained his country. He looked one of the best centre halves at last summer's World Cup. He cost Liverpool £17M the season before and, before PSG looked to follow the path set out by Manchester City, was projected to become one of the best defenders in the world. It's time to give him his chance.