Tuesday 24 April 2018

Liverpool ready to send Sakho on loan in bid to revive Frenchman's fortunes

Klopp: Looking to bounce back Picture: Reuters
Klopp: Looking to bounce back Picture: Reuters

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool are prepared to send Mamadou Sakho on loan during this transfer window to give the French defender a chance to regain his fitness and form.

Sakho has not played since April after being banned for failing a drugs test, a suspension Uefa lifted when exonerating the French defender during the summer.

However, he was sent home early from the pre-season tour of America by manager Jurgen Klopp for disciplinary reasons and has missed the start of the season while recovering from a heel injury.

Liverpool insist the willingness to listen to offers does not imply they want to offload the centre-half permanently. A short-term arrangement is seen as beneficial to the player and the club, allowing him to get back to the levels required to compete for his first-team place.

It has been a tumultuous few months for Sakho, who was established in the Liverpool and France first teams when he tested positive - courtesy of slimming pills - after a Europa League tie.

Uefa's investigation wrecked his chances of playing in Euro 2016 even though the substance in question was later found not to be banned.

Klopp then sent Sakho home from the US for several breaches of discipline, including turning up late at the airport for the team's flight.

This evening, Liverpool take their place in the relatively unfamiliar setting of the second round of the EFL Cup knowing they must treat the early rounds with extra special care.

It is the ignominy of failing to qualify for Europe that forces Klopp to lead a side to Burton Albion vowing to play a strong line-up.

The Liverpool manager insisted it was ever thus as he offered a reminder the competition's record winners reached the final last season - as they did the Europa League.

Certainly, this is not a manager or a club with a history of treating the League Cup as a low priority. The early rounds have often been used to showcase emerging talent more than established first-team players. But without European competition, Liverpool have no reason to rest their senior stars for exertions later in the season.

The Merseyside club played 63 matches across all competitions last season. If they make it to 51 this time, they will have reached both domestic cup finals. After referencing the lack of time he had to prepare for games last season, the last thing Klopp needs is the imbalance to swing the wrong way. "It's not about not being in Europe, and the cup is important, we want to be as successful as possible," insisted Klopp. "Last year in the final it was nice, the result was not. We are professionals, it is the next opportunity for us to get a result and a trophy. It is 100 per cent important.

"You have to take what you get. If you go through next round, you will not stop, if you go out you will not stop. You cannot wish that it is Christmas and say, 'OK, this year will really be a time to go to all finals because we don't have many games'. That is not how it works. I know we have never shown a lack of respect to any competition.

"There is always this kind of pressure whether we are in Europe or not. We don't have Europe but hopefully we have all the cups so there are enough games for everybody. If we have players who are close and fresh then I think we should use them."

There will be some changes, but they are likely to include summers signings such as Joel Matip and Marko Grujic.

Klopp is also keen to give midfielder Emre Can more game time and was yesterday assessing the fitness of Sadio Mane, who was badly missed in the defeat by Burnley on Saturday.

"It is not likely we will change seven or eight positions," said Klopp. "We analysed Burton. We respect the opponent and it is not the moment to rest people. Some players have had two weeks more pre-season and are healthy and fit and we have to give them a chance."

Klopp wants an immediate response to the 2-0 loss at Turf Moor, but he again baulked at suggestions he should react by spending.

"I wait for the day when the transfer window is closed because I can't believe how obsessed you are with it," Klopp.

"Until August 31 everything is possible but it is not the main thing to do." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Burton Albion v Liverpool, Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm


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