This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
Several faces in Crystal Palace colours will be familiar to Liverpool fans keeping an eye on proceedings at Selhurst Park this weekend.
The Eagles’ manager Roy Hodgson had an ill-fated six-month spell at Anfield in the 2010/11 campaign, while Christian Benteke and Martin Kelly have both swapped Merseyside for south London in recent years.
Another player to have made that move, but who won’t feature on Saturday as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury, is defender Mamadou Sakho, who was initially loaned to Crystal Palace by Liverpool in January 2017 before the switch became permanent later that year in a £26m deal (as per Sky Sports).
Sakho’s last few months as a Liverpool player featured some incendiary episodes, such as his removal from a pre-season tour of USA by Jurgen Klopp for tardy timekeeping (as per The Guardian) and his celebration of Palace’s victory away to his parent club in April 2017.
The Frenchman had some backers on Merseyside, with This Is Anfield writer Henry Jackson tweeting a few months after his sale that he was “still better than Lovren and Matip“, a sentiment with which quite a few Liverpool fans agreed.
Sakho's still better than Lovren and Matip, by the way. Not perfect by any means, but better.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) October 1, 2018
Seen you’ve got a lot of hate for this Henry so would like to say that I overwhelmingly agree with you.
— Olli Emmerson (@Oliver_Emmerson) October 1, 2018
Completely agree. Sakho is a better defender than Lovren and Matip. All 3 are error prone, but Sakho doesn’t get bullied as much.
— Nicolás Abad (@NAbadVega) October 2, 2018
Sakho isn’t a bad player at all, he’s just not easy on the eye and looks awkward but still gets the desired outcome
— Grant (@GrantBuckley2) October 2, 2018
Down in south London, Sakho was involved in heavy defeats to the two Manchester clubs at the beginning of Hodgson’s reign at Selhurst Park, while a mid-season calf injury ruled him out for almost two months, but he would win back his place in the team towards the end of 2017/18.
He was a regular presence in the Eagles’ line-up last season as well, starting their first 27 Premier League games before a knee problem ruled him out from the end of February onward. [via TransferMarkt]
Liverpool may be struggling for clean sheets this season, with just two in the Premier League so far, but their defensive record has improved immensely since Sakho left the club.
In his three full seasons at Anfield from 2013/14 to 2015/16, the Reds let in 50 goals in two league campaigns and 48 in the other. That fell to 42 in 2016/17, during which he went to Crystal Palace on loan, and has dropped further to 38 and 22 in the two full seasons since his permanent departure from the Reds. [via TransferMarkt]
The fee recouped by Liverpool for selling him was just over a third of the £75m that they spent on Van Dijk (as per BBC), who was ever-present in the league last season and so far in this, as well as winning the PFA Player of the Year and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2019.
Matip had been a regular presence in the Reds’ line-up this season until incurring a knee injury last month and his performances have been commended in a few quarters.
Noel Whelan told Football Insider that the Cameroonian has gone to “a new level” this year, describing him as “a real star”, while Klopp hailed him as “an incredible talent” and “one of the best pieces of business we ever did”, as per The Guardian.
Considering Sakho’s chequered injury record at Crystal Palace and the improvements in Liverpool’s defence since his departure, the Reds did quite well to take in £26m for him two years ago and the huge drop in their concession rate shows that they have managed quite alright with the centre-backs currently at the club.
Liverpool fans, do you think the club did well to get £26m for Sakho? Have your say by commenting below!
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