Mamadou Sakho: Probation is over!

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Mamadou Sakho arrived at Liverpool in the summer as a highly rated talent. He had with a decent spell at PSG under his belt (151 Ligue 1 Games) and is now moving back up the pecking order in the French National Team after playing in every age group for U16;. £15 million seems like a very deserving price to pay for a quality young player with plenty of potential. Now we are into the crunch month of December and after that the midpoint of the season will be upon us, it feels like a reasonable time to evaluate our promising 23 year old Frenchman.

Sakho

As a left footed and left-sided centre back it seemed as though Sakho would be an obvious under-study to Daniel Agger however he hasn’t seen much action in a pure back four alongside Skrtel or Toure. Unlike Agger though, Sakho is definitely young enough to be converted to a right-sided centre back but this does raise the question of whether he should take over from Agger or be moulded to fit with him? The Great Dane did turn 29 this month, a full 6 years Sakho’s senior so the more prudent option would probably be to look at him as a successor. Agger will be declining when the Frenchman peaks. It’s hard to think about losing our adventurous defender when players with such unashamed loyalty are a rare find in the modern game but it would seem that we’ve not done too badly in searching out a replacement.

Aside from this, Brendan Rodgers employment of a 3-5-2 this season has seen Sakho on the left of the back three and he’s looked very comfortable so far, the obvious failing of that formation being our lack of class wing-backs. It would appear that he has generally grown in confidence and quality as he’s played more this season. This is in contrast to say, Henderson and Allen in their first term, Sakho seems a little less phased by the majesty of Liverpool FC. Perhaps this is down to his extensive amount of minutes at the Parc des Princes playing with the likes of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Unfortunately so far this season Sakho has one played on one occasion when Liverpool have managed a clean sheet. Much of this is due to the Reds having changed defensive partnerships and formations so often. It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly this is case as I can only think of Sakho being at fault for the Santi Cazorla goal against Arsenal {Editor’s Note – I don’t think he was at fault for that goal}. We’ve conceded just 0.3 more goals with him than without which seems to be hardly worth mentioning in the grand scheme of things. The main issue with our defence at the moment is less about the personnel but more about Rodgers selecting the correct partnership and playing them consistently.

The main attributes Sakho has displayed so far are his intelligence, composure on the ball and his concentration in defence. A pass accuracy of 92.1 is the best in the team and considering he plays 45% of his passes forward and 45% to the right you can see he’s either playing it to another centre back or forward into midfield. These two stats show his clever choice of distribution which is invaluable as part of the squad Brendan Rodgers is trying to create. On top of this he’s hit 20/23 of his long passes. His reading of the game is fantastic, he makes 2.6 interceptions a game at the moment which is higher than both his competitor Agger and Brendan Rodgers favourite for his partner, Martin Skrtel. So far he’s been caught in possession the same amount as Agger but three times as much as Martin Skrtel. With Agger being our centre back who brings the ball out the most it would seem that maybe this is an area of his game Sakho needs to work on as mistakes at the back can be costly.

It’s plain for all to see from interviews with The Guardian and on the official LFC website that Sakho is a fantastic character, very unassuming and modest about his talent. It’s a nice change to feel like we have a quality player who understands the project and the rewards that are on offer.

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