Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that Mamadou Sakho is “closer” to making a return, but still needs to find “match fitness.”
Sakho was advised to move on loan this summer, after missing four months of action through a mix of suspension and injury, but opted against leaving Merseyside.
The Frenchman has continued to train with Klopp’s first team, but is yet to feature in any matchday squads or training friendlies so far.
This, as Klopp told reporters on Monday afternoon, is due to a lack of match fitness, with Sakho still a while away from reaching an acceptable level for first-team selection.
“[He’s] still working on it. He’s closer to everything,” Klopp said.
“He’s still working, but it’s a big difference between match fitness, that’s all.
“It’s not about how the player feels, it’s about how I feel.
“It needs time, for sure. It makes more sense to really use the time, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Sakho’s availability on loan suggested he had fallen out of favour under Klopp, but it seems that, when fit, he will be considered part of the German’s first-team squad.
In the meantime, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have established themselves as Klopp’s first-choice centre-back pairing, and the 49-year-old was full of praise for the latter on Monday.
“If you’d worked or lived in Germany, you would have known much more about him,” he explained.
“For six years he was involved in one of the top teams in Germany, in each kind of competition and tournament. It made sense to sign him.
“It wasn’t the most easy start for him, a little injury in the summer not without complications, so he needed time.
“Everyone could see in the first games, especially tall players like him need physical fitness.
“He needed to create some physical strength again, but there was never a doubt about his quality. It was clear when he was fit he could really help us.”
Matip has now made four appearances for the Reds this season, playing the full 90 minutes in each, and has drawn praise from all corners—as Sakho’s stock continues to diminish.