Liverpool have finally landed the defensive star name to their ranks that they’ve been chasing all summer. Having failed to sign Kyriakos Papadopoulos, the market threw out a name that may once have seemed too far out there, both in terms of fee and likelihood. But the capture of Mamadou Sakho from PSG is as appropriate as it is impressive.
Liverpool have benefitted from PSG’s heavy spending and wayward thinking. In Thiago Silva, the Parisian club have the best centre-back in Europe captaining this new era in the club’s history. Silva, who incidentally took on captaincy from Sakho, will see compatriots Alex and newly signed Marquinhos act as the rotating options alongside him, pushing the 23-year-old Frenchman down the pecking order.
Questions have to be asked of the often confusing PSG. Why let go of a French international who is yet to see his best years? Why place such faith in Alex, who is the wrong side of thirty and won’t be a fixture in the side for much longer? PSG have a good, if small selection of centre-backs, but Sakho would undoubtedly have offered long-term stability.
But that’s where Liverpool benefit. The club have been on the hunt for a player who could take over from Jamie Carragher, suitably replacing the qualities, both sporting and mental, of the now retired centre-back. In Sakho, Liverpool have a player who was once considered the jewel of PSG; a versatile captain who would and probably should be one of the faces of the nouveau riche club.
Sakho’s signing fits in perfectly with the project currently ongoing at Anfield. Strong, extremely athletic and possessing a good reading of the game, Sakho, as a potential leader of the backline, will allow Brendan Rodgers to deploy a high defensive line. Moreover, the challenge for the 23-year-old will be something he’ll relish. Having been faced with the decision to leave PSG in order to gain playing time and a spot in the French national team, Sakho’s reluctance to leave his boyhood club should soon dissipate. The chance for him to make a name for himself in the biggest league in Europe, and to prove a point to his former club, will act a strong motivator.
Liverpool, in a way, have come out of this particular transfer episode – that being the search for Carragher’s replacement – with a lot of luck. Sakho was once considered one of the brightest prospects in Europe and someone who would have stood as one of the cornerstones of French football. With the amount of money pouring into the league, it seemed almost inevitable that one of the nation’s biggest talents would extend his stay in Ligue 1 well into the future. Sakho’s contract, however, which only had a year left to run, placed even the wealthiest in an uncomfortable position. The transfer fee of £18 million represents another impressive piece of business by Liverpool.
Only a year ago, French football waved goodbye to its biggest defensive prospect in Raphael Varane. Now, and to complement the good work already done by the Anfield club, the Premier League welcomes another highly-rated youngster, and one who could emerge as one of the better signings of this summer.
Will Sakho prove to be one of the better Premier League buys of this summer?
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