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1 Aug 2015

Snubbed: 'Outstanding' £18m Liverpool star set for shock Anfield exit after Helsinki omission?

Last week, reports in Italy claimed that Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho wants to quit the club, a notion that many Reds fans find hard to believe. Sakho himself recently claimed that he's happy at Anfield, but new developments this week add weight to the suggestion that the France defender may not be in Rodgers' plans for the coming season.

On July 21st, an alleged exclusive on La Lazio Siamo Noi - an Italian football website that broadcasts a football show on Italy's T9 TV Network - claimed:

* 'Outstanding' Sakho wants to leave Liverpool, and he's 'asked his agents' to find him a new club.

* The defender is concerned with the unhealthy competition at centre-back, and wants to sign for a team where he will be the main man in defence.

* Lazio are interested in a loan move with an option to buy, and Sakho's agent is already in contact with the Italian club.

Over the last few years, I've repeatedly warned about the dangers of unhealthy competition in defence, but despite that being a very real issue, the story seemed like the usual media pie in the sky.

Until, that is, Brendan Rodgers failed to include Sakho in Liverpool's 16-man squad for the club's pre-season friendly against HJK Helsinki. A few points:

* According to Rodgers, Helsinki are the 'most successful team in Finland', and he'll be approaching the fixture 'like a Premier League game'. Clearly, it's an an important match, so why wouldn't Sakho be included in the squad?

* Sakho is not not injured. As the following photo proves, he trained with the first team on Thursday:

* Bar a few fringe players (Lucas, Allen etc), the bulk of the first team have travelled to Helsinki, so it seems strange that Sakho is not included in the squad, particularly when the club's defence is such a priority.

* There's another pre-season game on Sunday against Swindon, but with the most of the club's regular starters in Finland, the game hardly has the same level of importance, and it remains to be seen whether Rodgers will even attend the game.

* Of course, there's a possibility that Rodgers has seen enough, and already plans to start Sakho against Stoke, but if that's the case, surely it's prudent to give the first-choice back-four at least one full game together before the season begins?

If Sakho is genuinely thinking of leaving, I can totally understand why he'd make that choice. With the European Championship on the horizon, he needs to be playing week-in, week out, and that hasn't really happened under Rodgers.

Additionally, with Sakho out of the squad for the Helsinki game, Dejan Lovren has a chance to stake his claim for a starting place against Stoke, and I doubt the Frenchman will be happy about that.

Sakho has improved over the last year, and his proactive and positive forward-passing is a particular highlight of his game. However, the question is, will he be missed if/when he leaves?

Arguably, no. Sakho has made only 46 appearances in 2 seasons (23 per year), and the Reds have more than enough options to cover his absence.

With that in mind, is Rodgers right to ignore Sakho for the Helsinki game? Is Lovren now in pole-position to partner Skrtel against Stoke?

Author: Jaimie K


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