Liverpool: Sakho still angered Klopp; striker considered Arsenal move; Balotelli leads mass exodus
Liverpool looked as if they had got virtually all of their summer dealings done early, signing seven new players before the season started, with very little other incoming activity after they first kicked a ball at the Emirates Stadium in mid-August.
Calls for Jurgen Klopp to invest in a new left-back (James Milner and the erratic Alberto Moreno remain his only options) were ignored, as the manager focused on trimming his squad on deadline day.
One player who looked set for an exit was Mamadou Sakho, who Klopp had encouraged to depart on loan or even permanently in order to secure game time and get his career back on track. Sakho was first choice at Liverpool last season until a doping allegation and disciplinary problems on a pre-season tour of American angered Klopp to the extent that he wished the Frenchman out of the club.
However, despite the manager’s insistence that he leave, Sakho rejected approaches from Besiktas, Stoke and West Brom, with The Baggies even offering £20 million to sign the defender permanently.
Sakho was told to leave to get games, and now the manager is reportedly so angry with the Frenchman’s refusal to do so, that he will make him his sixth choice centre-back. The fall from grace is enormous – first choice in April, sixth in September. Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, Joe Gomez and Lucas Leiva will all play ahead of Sakho if Klopp is given the option.
Liverpool fans are mostly distraught by the disagreement between Klopp and Sakho, who is widely considered to be a fan favourite and a passionate member of the squad. They will hope he can at least get back on the good side of the German, in order to avoid an ignominious exit from what has been an up and down but enjoyable relationship between the defender and the club.
Another player who had the possibility to leave the club was forward Daniel Sturridge, as it was rumoured that his representatives approached Arsenal with the intention of encouraging the Gunners to take him on loan.
Sturridge, who was restricted to just two minutes against Tottenham at the weekend, and was shoved out wide against Burnley, has publicly admitted his unhappiness with his positional situation at Anfield, and this is possibly why he would seek a move away from the club for a season.
However, the fact remains that, when fit, Sturridge is a striker who could score 25 goals in a season for Liverpool, even in a system that is not entirely suited to him, as Klopp’s is.
Whether Sturridge can force himself back into the forefront of Klopp’s mind is unknown, but the Reds are certainly much better off having him than watching him fire Arsenal into a title charge.
Despite Sakho and Sturridge remaining at the club, there were a number of exits from Anfield yesterday, led by the departure of flop striker Mario Balotelli.
Signed for £16 million just two summers ago as an ill-fitting replacement for Luis Suarez, Balotelli managed four goals in 28 appearances before a poor loan at AC Milan. He has moved to Nice on a free transfer, giving him the chance to resurrect his career in the Europa League, but Liverpool fans will not miss him. Jamie Carragher neatly summed up the situation on Twitter:
Balotelli on a free is still paying over the odds by Nice.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 31, 2016
Other departures were Luis Alberto, also signed in 2014 by Brendan Rodgers, with the Spaniard too being sold for a loss, this time to Lazio. Alberto never looked like making it in the Premier League, and it is unlikely Reds fans will miss him.
Andre Wisdom was sent to Austria on loan, with Red Bull Salzburg in order to get his career going, and Lazar Markovic; another 2014 signing, also departed on loan, going to Sporting Lisbon to be reunited with old manager Jorge Jesus. Markovic, only 22, is perhaps the only loanee who may still have a chance at Anfield, but he must impress at Sporting to force his way back in next season.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ai Kagou
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