What's going on with Sakho?
It might just be me but I feel like it’s getting increasingly difficult to assess Liverpool players in the internet, instant reaction age that we all live in. I can’t tell if people are genuine, taking the p*ss, trolling or completely over-evaluating players at the club. There are mad, grandiose statements made and then there are weird, trying too hard ‘comments’ modeled after Chuck Norris facts. Bottom line, the internet is no gauge of public opinion.
That’s a good thing too because if we used the internet barometer, Sakho would either be the greatest centre back in the history of French football or his feet are made of concrete and he should sleep with the fishes.
My opinion is that Sakho is a good defender who is prone to the odd lapse of concentration at moments. He’s not making rash decisions like Lovren and his passing is better than his style makes it appear. He’s an awkward looking player but he’s clearly got confidence in his own ability, even if it does sometimes lead to problems, though not as often as the doubters would have you believe.
So what of Sakho’s status at Liverpool? The club are sending very mixed signals but it seems like management are having of none of him whilst upper management are. Rodgers hasn’t even named in his match day squads so far this season but the club have offered him a contract extension with a salary increase, so err… what’s happening? No one knows so let’s wildly speculate.
What we have here is an old-fashioned game of politics. Rodgers is in the rare position of having a lousy season and finding his position strengthened. The club loosened the transfer committee shackles and gave him the tools to succeed, or enough rope to hang himself; your call. Rodgers has used this summer to completely exile unwanted players, most of who were signed by committee, and has brought in his own men. It seems Sakho might be part of the fallout, there’s no footballing reason why he shouldn’t be involved but the ghost of Kolo Toure gets to sit in the bench.
The committee aren’t gone though and it seems they view Sakho as a valuable player to have around; something most fans should agree with; even those who don’t think he’s good must think he’s a better bet than Toure. Sakho might not be as dominant as internet hard ons would have you believe but he’s a good defender who has a place in this squad/team. So would that be that the committees most venomous critics are on their side for once?
The club insist Sakho isn’t available for any sort of transfer yet he isn’t making any squads for match days. Whatever’s happening, it isn’t healthy for the supposed ‘fresh start’ for this season. It smacks of game-playing and politicking and most had their fill of that during the dying embers of the Benitez era. So what’s going on with Sakho? He’s being badly mishandled and je ne sais pas pourquoi.
It reeks of internal club politics. Rodgers doesn’t fancy Sakho, never has. There were whispers from the start that he was a ‘committee’ signing and Rodgers had wanted his boy Ashley Williams instead. We paid big money for him and he was supposed to be the rock on which our defense would be built. A ‘marquee signing’ according to Ian Ayre (a member of said ‘committee’ don’t forget).
Yet he’s never been a regular first choice and has been in and out of the side from the beginning. Injuries have contributed to that too obviously, but can you put your hand on your heart and tell me that Rodgers has had the same faith in him that he has had in Skrtel or even Lovren for that matter?
Despite the justified criticism of Lovren, you can at least make a case as to why he has been selected ahead of Sakho to start the season. What you cannot do, is make one for why Toure was on the bench while the Big Frenchman was in the stands. I expect that to change on Monday at Arsenal, because I reckon Rodgers has had his wings clipped a little this week by the owners, who were over here for the opening home game.
Sakho has been linked with a move away for weeks. Why is that? For some reason, clubs felt that Sakho was surplus to requirements. That’s obviously come from somewhere, as the talk of clubs being in for him came before he was left out of the opening two games.
My suspicion is that Rodgers was hoping to offload him and was happy for Sakho’s name to be circulated around Europe to see what interest there is. He’s then completely left him out of the squad to nudge him towards the exit by putting the frighteners on him, as Sakho knows that he needs to play this year with the European Championships coming at the end of the season.
Clubs have come in with loan offers but others at LFC, presumably those who pushed for his signing in the first place, have railed against it. The owners come over and a couple of days later Sakho is then being offered a 100k a week contract extension? It’s not a co-incidence.
It's difficult to believe the new contract is Rodgers' idea. My best guess would be that they’ve said to him “you can sell all the dead wood nobody wants, but we’re not letting you sell anyone good when you yourself might not even be here in a few months”.
I can see why the club would take that stance and it's probably the right thing to do as Sakho is a good player, but it’s not ideal for the player himself if he suspects the manager doesn’t particularly want him here. He could sign the contract and take the extra money, but I’d be thinking carefully about it if I were him.
I really don’t get what Rodgers’ problem is though. He probably thinks he can sign someone better, but he tried that with Lovren and look how that turned out. Sometimes it’s better the devil you know and instead of playing politics he should just make use of Sakho until he has someone better. That someone better is not Kolo, and hopefully that's been made clear to Rodgers this week by the powers that be.
I have had a lot of criticism for the transfer policy at LFC in the last few years. But signing Sakho, age 23, with over 200 games experience at PSG, looked like a great move. Tall, strong, quick, and experienced at a young age, he seemed the perfect long term replacement for the glass-man Daniel Agger.
When we nearly won the league the defence got a hard time, especially Sakho. I thought it was harsh as the centre backs were so exposed by marauding full backs and gung-ho mentality that we often played almost with a back two.
Statistics proved we conceded more goals when Agger was out and Sakho was in, and Rodgers clearly wasn't convinced as he pushed the committee to sign another left sided defender, Dejan Lovren.
Conceding six against Stoke with Sakho playing has maybe pushed Rodgers faith back to Lovren. I dont think supporters are convinced by either, but Sakho offers a stronger presence on that left side.
I think his biggest problem is that defenders under Rodgers are expected to be good on the ball, to build moves from the back, yet Sakho in possession sometimes makes Djimi Traore look like Bobby Moore. His Flamingo legs make him look gangly and out of control, leading to nerves in the crowd.
When I heard the rumours he was leaving though, I was gutted. He is better than Lovren, who has been a real let down signing. Toure will leave next summer, and at 25 Sakho is entering the second half of his career and as we all know centre backs often get better with age.
Thankfully, it looks like the Reds agree by offering him a contract. That will do for me. Leaving him out the 18 is odd, but Rodgers has shown earlier in his LFC career with players like Enrique, Downing, Lucas and Henderson, that even if he bombs you out there is a way back.