With Liverpool no closer to signing a new centre-back this summer, two former Reds have questioned Jurgen Klopp‘s use of Mamadou Sakho.
Sakho has not featured for the Reds since the 4-0 victory at home to Everton at the tail end of 2015/16, scoring the second goal in an imperious performance at Anfield.
Between then and Liverpool’s upcoming season opener away to Watford, the France international has fallen dramatically out of favour under Klopp.
His suspension by UEFA for a suspected, and ultimately overturned, drug offence, and a subsequent series of transgressions in the buildup to last season, have seen him exiled.
But with Klopp heading into the new campaign with just Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez as his centre-back options, there is reason to question Sakho’s continued absence.
And speaking to ESPN, ex-Liverpool defensive midfielder Mohamed Sissoko believes this is an oversight by the manager.
“In defence, they have to make up for the absence of Mamadou Sakho,” the 32-year-old said.
“I think that Mamadou’s commitment and leadership should be an asset for Klopp.
“I don’t know what happened between them, but I think Mamadou could have been an asset to the defence and the squad as a whole.”
Another ex-Red to highlight Sakho’s “commitment” as an important factor for Klopp’s side is John Arne Riise, who took to Twitter with a bold prediction:
My guess is that Sakho will through hard work and commitment turn it all around and play for @LFC this season…
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) August 7, 2017
Sakho has spent the summer training at Melwood, building his fitness after suffering a serious knee injury while on loan with Crystal Palace in the second half of last season.
But this has clearly not endeared the 27-year-old to Klopp, having been forced to work away from the rest of the squad and being left out of all eight of Liverpool’s pre-season friendlies.
Unlike last term, Sakho hasn’t even been included in the Reds’ U23s group, with Neil Critchley‘s side taking on Rhyl FC, MTK Budapest, Rapid Wien, Coventry City, PSV Eindhoven and TNS as they prepare to take on Swansea City on Friday.
Liverpool are seemingly no closer to sealing Sakho’s departure, however, despite reported interest from Palace and Sevilla.
With Klopp stressing that he won’t panic buy at centre-back this month, and with the pursuit of Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk so far fruitless, Sakho’s presence is an interesting one.
But while both Sissoko and Riise believe he could, or should, work his way back into the fold under the German, it is still highly unlikely.