After a successful loan spell last season, where Mamadou Sakho played a huge part in Crystal Palace’s survival, the French defender is set to return to Selhurst Park on a permanent deal before the Deadline Day window slams shut.
According to Sky Sports and The Guardian, a deal of around £24million, plus £2million in add-ons has been agreed, with the 27-year-old putting pen to paper on a five-year-deal.
Never has one central defender spilt opinion amongst a fan base. Some Liverpool fans would have loved to see him come back into the squad and patch things up with Jürgen Klopp – just to stop Dejan Lovren picked every week.
Whereas others think he is just as much of a liability.
All the French international wants is a home, a club where he feels wanted and a place where he can play regularly.
At 19 he became the youngest player to captain Paris Saint-Germain. They are his hometown club and he bled red and blue.
PSG’s general, a colossus at the back, he was the heart and soul of the team. That was until QSI took over in 2011 and new, more Latin themed signings started to appear.
The arrival of Thiago Silva, Alex and Marquinhos pushed Sakho down the pecking order. His inability to speak Portuguese worked against him and the big defender was almost forced to move on.
“I’m delighted to be here,” Sakho told the official Liverpool website upon signing. “I’d like to thank everyone for the welcome.
“I came here because the project that is in place at Liverpool interests me. I’m really looking forward to playing my first game.”
After playing 200 games for PSG, Sakho featured 80 times for the Reds, with just 53 starts in the Premier League over a turbulent four-year period.
“It is true that I turned up late,” Sakho said on French TV station Canal+ in January, referring to last summer’s pre-season tour of the US which saw him sent home in disgrace.
“There was a rule that I should have observed. I do not at all see myself as above the rules, I respect everyone.
“I paid my fine, I was sanctioned, I apologised to my team-mates and my manager. Aside from that… I do not want to go into the controversies.”
Rumours emerged that he missed a flight, a team meeting and then a rehab session, forcing Klopp’s hand and the German sent him home from America.
Back in England, he complained on social media about having to train on his own, and was unable to play with the Under-23 side. After that his coach let him play for the reserves, but he was completely removed from the first-team.
The loan switch to Crystal Palace came at the end of the January window earlier this year. Although his season was ended with a ligament injury, he made eight starts, the Eagles won five of those games and picked up four clean sheets.
His small amount of games under Sam Allardyce doesn’t give a full picture of what he did at Palace, but it was clear that although he made an impact, he could improve further given games.
Sakho’s numbers at Liverpool were very good and there was a ckear improvement as he has matured and picked up more minutes.
Look at a player like Leonardo Bonucci, it wasn’t until his late twenties he blossomed into the best pure defender in Europe. Sakho might never reach that level, but he’s perfectly placed to become a rock at the heart of the Palace defence.
Since he was slowly pushed out of his home city, all the Parisian has wanted is somewhere to play and prove his worth. He lost that chance at Liverpool, partially through his own doing, but you grow from your mistakes.
The Frenchman was the heartbeat behind France’s come-from-behind win against Ukraine which saw them qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Didier Deschamps trusted him explicitly after that show of leadership and if he can stay fit and make training on time, he could do the same for the Eagles.