Mamadou Sakho could see his loan spell with Crystal Palace end early after being stretchered off in Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to Tottenham – leaving Liverpool’s plan for him this summer in doubt.
The Frenchman had been enjoying an excellent run of form for the Eagles, only stalled by his ineligibility against the Reds on Sunday, returning to the starting lineup against Spurs.
But during the marginal defeat, that saw Christian Eriksen’s goal continue the away side’s late title bid, Sakho was forced off through a troubling knee injury.
An attempted challenge on Spurs striker Harry Kane saw Sakho left prone, and after lengthy treatment on the field, was stretchered off with 57 minutes on the clock at Selhurst Park.
This left Palace manager Sam Allardyce concerned about whether Sakho would play for the club again, fearing ligament damage.
“We think it’s a ligament, but which one we don’t know,” he told reporters after the game.
“We certainly hope it’s not the cruciate but it could be the medial or the lateral, but it certainly looks like a hyper-extension of the knee and we wait and see what the scan shows.
“With such a short space of time left we won’t know if any of our defenders will get fit again.
“And we might have to rely on Damien [Delaney] and Martin [Kelly] for the remaining games of the season.”
Allardyce’s suggestion that he could be left with just two fit centre-backs for the rest of the season is a troubling early diagnosis for Sakho.
It is likely that the 26-year-old will be ruled out for the rest of the season, and could return to Merseyside early to undergo treatment at Liverpool’s Melwood facility.
This presents a quandary for Sakho heading into the summer, when he was expected to make a £30 million departure.
Napoli, Roma and Southampton were all credited with an interest, while Allardyce was vocal about his desire to keep him in South Norwood, but a long-term injury could change this.
If Sakho has ruptured his ACL, for example, he could be facing many months on the sideline, much like his Reds team-mates Adam Bogdan, Joe Gomez and Danny Ings during Jurgen Klopp‘s tenure.
Such a spell on the sidelines would surely scupper any move away and leave Liverpool and Sakho in a tricky position this summer.
As Allardyce attests, the extent of Sakho’s injury remains to be seen, but it certainly didn’t look good for the centre-back.