Liverpool are reported to have rejected a loan offer from Southampton for outcast centre-back Mamadou Sakho, as they pursue a permanent departure for the French defender.
Sakho has garnered interest from across Europe this transfer window, after falling dramatically out of favour with Jurgen Klopp.
The centre-back seemingly has no opportunity to reclaim his first-team role, with a move away from Merseyside almost guaranteed—despite there being no major developments so far in January.
The likes of Swansea City and Crystal Palace have only made initial enquiries as to Sakho’s availability, serving as no real indicator of their interest.
But according to the Mail, Southampton have made their first move for the Reds’ No. 3, though it has proved unsuccessful.
This has come with Saints manager Claude Puel seeking a loan deal for Sakho, in the light of Jose Fonte’s shock transfer request this month—with Liverpool only interested in moving him on permanently.
“We will see what happens in the next few days of the transfer window,” Klopp told reporters this week, before joking: “I’m really excited for January 31!”
Liverpool value Sakho at £20 million, despite his unfavourable position, given the current climate in the market for top-level centre-backs and the fact his contract runs until 2020.
Whether they will secure the full fee remains to be seen, but it is unlikely they will sanction a loan deal, having already been willing to keep him at the club for the past six months.
Sakho has been hailed as a positive influence on the Liverpool U23s, having spent the first half of the season operating in the Young Reds’ back line.
“I think we were all surprised how professional [Sakho] has been and how serious he has been in training,” midfielder Matty Virtue said this month.
“It can be a problem when a first-team player comes down and doesn’t really want to be here but he’s managed himself very well and especially in the games we’ve all learned from him.
“He is a top player, captained France and captained PSG, and all you can do from those players is learn. He has been where we all want to get to.”
Virtue’s highlighting of Sakho’s accomplishments only serves to further depict his fall from grace, having helped fuel Liverpool’s push for the Europa League final in the latter months of 2015/16.
His regular partner for the U23s, Tiago Ilori, has already departed for Reading, joining the Championship club in a deal worth £3.75 million, having arrived at the same time back in 2013.
Then, they were described as key options for the club for the next decade, but this has not transpired.
But with Joe Gomez impressing once again in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory away to Plymouth Argyle in the replay of their FA Cup third round clash, another long-term defensive pillar has emerged.