Stats suggest Southampton target would boost defence whether Van Dijk stays or leaves

According to reports in the Daily Mirror, Southampton are said to be lining up a £20m bid for Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho this summer.

Despite going a number of months without playing first team football after being sent home from the Reds’ pre-season tour of America last summer, the 27-year-old has impressed on loan with Crystal Palace having joined the Eagles during the January transfer window.

Saints boss Claude Puel also wanted to sign his French compatriot following the departure of Jose Fonte to West Ham and injury to captain Virgil van Dijk, but for whatever reason the deal failed to materialise.

However, Puel will have been even more impressed having seen how Sakho has done since moving to Selhurst Park, and could be ready to break the south coast club’s transfer record in order to bring him to St Mary’s in the summer.

The France international has made three appearances for a side that had conceded 46 goals in their opening 25 Premier League matches this term, but since he came into the starting XI they have kept clean sheets in all of his outings.

There is no doubt that Sakho has brought some stability and experience to a leaky backline, and that is shown by some of his stats across those 270 minutes of action.

The 27-year-old has shown his defensive capabilities by making 24 clearances and three interceptions, while he has also shown his strength in the air by winning 10 aerial duels.

He is also considered by some to be a little clumsy on and off the ball, but the fact that he is yet to commit a foul for the Eagles, and has a passing accuracy of 82%, goes some way to dismissing those claims.

That last stat will be particularly important to Claude Puel, who likes his defenders to be comfortable on the ball as well as being good defenders.

Whether Van Dijk stays or leaves St Mary’s this summer, there is no doubt that the potential addition of Sakho would strengthen the Southampton defence – as long as he can replicate his performances for Crystal Palace.