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#640978 - 27/07/22 01:23 PM The Curious Case of Mamadou Sakho & why Klopp is a BOSS!
Pickles Offline
1st Team Squad

Registered: 23/12/15
Posts: 5905
This week marks six years since Jurgen Klopp's infamous falling out with former Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho that ended the defender's Reds career.

£18m Liverpool star banished by Jurgen Klopp after mysterious falling out.

“I have just one question. How long do you think you can live here?” An innocuous enough query, made to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, but one that would quickly open the door to the swift, public unravelling of one £18m signing’s Anfield career.

It was the summer of 2016 and Klopp was heading into his first full season as Reds manager. With Liverpool taking part in that year’s International Champions Cup, their pre-season preparations had taken them to the United States where they would face Chelsea in Pasadena and AC Milan in Santa Clara.

Yet on the eve of their clash with the Londoners, taking place in the early hours of July 28 for those watching back in the UK, Klopp had banished one of his players back to Merseyside. As Brad Smith caught an overnight flight back to Heathrow, landing on July 26, ahead of undergoing a medical before completing a £6m move to AFC Bournemouth, he was surprisingly joined by defender Mamadou Sakho.

The Frenchman had been receiving treatment on an Achilles injury, which was set to rule him out of the start of the Premier League season, but that was not the reason for his premature return. The club initially kept their cards close to their chest, only confirming that the former Paris Saint-Germain captain had flown home but declined to comment on the reasons behind the decision, though it was understood that concerns had been raised about the defender’s attitude around the club's training camp in California.

It had been a difficult few months for Sakho. After scoring in back-to-back starts against Borussia Dortmund and Everton in April 2016, it was announced that he was was being investigated by UEFA for allegedly violating an anti-doping rule, after testing positive on March 17 following a Europa League game against Manchester United.

Liverpool, along with Sakho, agreed that while UEFA were investigating, he would not be available for team selection. After testing positive for a fat-burner, UEFA punished him with a 30-day ban from all European football, which FIFA extended to cover all world football, yet the ban later expired after the substance was found to not be in the banned substance list. On July 8 the case was dismissed by UEFA, with the Frenchman later winning his libel action against the World Anti-Doping Agency and receiving substantial damages in November 2020.

Of course, that was little compensation to him at the time. His ban meant he missed out on playing in the Europa League final for Liverpool and also missed out on a place in the France squad for Euro 2016 as they hosted their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup. With the Reds losing to Sevilla and Les Bleus losing to Portugal in the final, Sakho was left helplessly wondering what could have been.

Still, 2016/17 was supposed to be a new start for him. Allocated a new shirt number by switching to number three, he was already a cult hero amongst his ‘Liverpool country’ as he had famously declared Reds fans when gatecrashing Dejan Lovren and Divock Origi’s post-match interview after Klopp’s side’s famous comeback win over Dortmund. And supporters were excited to see him back in action before his untimely injury following his wrongful suspension.

Yet events on the United States ensured he would be frozen out by his German manager, banished to train with the Under-23s and never play for the Liverpool first team again. And fans would be given an unlikely look through the keyhole as Sakho’s Reds career fell apart.

Given his popularity with supporters, lively personality and injury status, the club’s media department understandably considered him the perfect candidate to hand a GoPro camera to as the Liverpool squad visited the States and, in particular, Alcatraz prison.

“Mamadou Sakho's hilarious GoPro tour of Alcatraz”

has 738k views on YouTube at the time of writing, as, uploaded on July 23, the Frenchman turned ‘reporter, cameraman and Alcatraz tour guide in this hilarious video as he followed his Liverpool FC teammates around the rock.’

And while it is indeed highly amusing, a particular exchange with his manager, accompanied by trademark laughter but perhaps more awkward viewing in hindsight, shed light on what was the beginning of the end for the Frenchman.

As Klopp was interviewed by club staff, Sakho snuck up and chuckled to camera in the background, waiting to ask the question he had been putting to all his team-mates through the club’s tour. Spotting the Frenchman, the German stepped away from a would-be generic answer.

“We could have left Mama Sakho here because he is filming me while I give the interview here,” Klopp said sternly, through gritted teeth, leading into the moment that has earned YouTube’s ‘most replayed’ moment from the video at the 2 mins 47 mark.

“I have just one question,” Sakho interrupted. “How long do you think you can live here?”

"Actually I don't have to think about it. You should think about it," Klopp laughed. "Because only one of us came late last night, for departure in Liverpool. It was not me.

“Ah then it was you by the way. We are here because we want to leave Mama here.”

“We are here because we want to leave Mama here,” Sakho repeated as he chuckled when walking off. Yet Klopp’s annoyance at the defender’s tardiness was seemingly strike one ahead of sending him home a few days later.

It later transpired he had also turned up late for a team meal and missed a treatment session in Palo Alto. That was enough for his manager. Three strikes and Sakho was out.

“I have to build a group here, we have to start new here,” Klopp said. “So I thought maybe it made sense for him to fly home to Liverpool and after eight or 10 days when we come back we can talk about it. It's not that serious.

“He nearly missed the departure of the plane, he missed a session and was late for a meal. We have some rules and we have to respect them. If somebody doesn't respect it or somebody gives me the feeling he is not respecting it then I have to react that's all.

“It is private how he reacted. But we had no argument, it wasn't 'aghh, you, no...'. I spoke. You cannot argue when only one person is speaking. That's all. I think missed a session is missed a session. Even injured players have sessions.”

He added: “Fine him? I am not interested in the money of the players. Actually not really often in my life I've had to fine anybody because I want that we learn together to do the thing that is right.

“Always it is the same with every group. I don't like fining. Sometimes it's funny, when the fine is bull****. Come on, pay for it, that's nice. But mistakes, fining never helps.

“It's not because they care about money, it's always yeah in the moment it hurts but after a while not. So I want them to do the things because they want to do it, that's all.”

Yet despite Klopp playing down the incident at the time, it soon became clear that it was not injury preventing Sakho’s return to the Liverpool first team following the Reds’ return to England.

He would turn down August interest from Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion before being sent to train with the U23s at the Kirkby Academy. The Frenchman soon hit out at the ‘lie’ about his situation in September 2016 in a series of posts shared on his official Snapchat at 3am, insisting he was fit to play.

“Now it's three weeks I am fit to play games. They don't want me to play with segonde (segondo, U23s) team lol,” he wrote. “Still working hard like Scouse Soldier! Still not talking cos I want to speak on the pitch....I will speak soon for the people who support me and don't understand the situation (emoji).

“Still happy to live in my Liverpool Country (emoji) with my family, hope to have chance to play soon to give my best like I try to always do! I accept my situation but I can't accept the lie....the fans deserve to know the true! Thanks for your support (emoji) 6 six months stay quiet. Have good night everybody! You'll never walk alone! (emoji).”

While Klopp was yet to publicly confirm that Sakho had no future at Liverpool, the writing was on the wall. After the suspension in April, it would be over five months before he would play again as he returned to action in the low-key setting of Prenton Park for the U23s against Wolfsburg, while he would make six appearances in Premier League 2.

Come January 2017 and the defender belatedly got the hint, as he left for Crystal Palace on loan on transfer deadline day. But not before speaking about publicly about being sent home by Klopp for the first time.

Speaking in France, Sakho told Canal Football Club: “It is true that I turned up late. 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.”

Sakho had his fresh start at Selhurst Park and couldn’t wait to get started. "Right now it's a new page for me," he said at the time. "When I have a new shirt I always give my best." Yet while he indeed gave his best, injury limited him to just eight appearances that season for the Eagles.

It was believed the presence of Christian Benteke, his former Reds team-mate, was an important figure in Sakho's decision to move to Palace. And it was as the Belgian scored a brace back at Anfield to inflict a 2-1 defeat on Liverpool in April 2017, that the Frenchman caused further controversy as, despite only being on loan, he got up from the sidelines to celebrate with a rock-paper-scissors handshake with the striker after his first goal.

Up until that point, some supporters had hoped Klopp would welcome Sakho back to Anfield and forgive him for his disciplinary misdemeanours, believing the Frenchman had been treated harshly and was both their best defender and solution to a leaky Reds backline. Now he was perhaps not quite as popular with his ‘Liverpool country’, and while Kopites didn’t know it at the time, the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 opened their eyes to what makes a real world class defender.

Sakho would return to the Reds following the end of his loan before eventually completing a £26m permanent switch to Palace in September 2017. The bid was the Eagles’ fourth of the summer for the defender, as Liverpool compromised on their initial £30m asking price.

Sakho would spend four seasons as a permanent Crystal Palace player but continued to be troubled by injury, making only four Premier League appearances in his final season at the club. With his contract expiring last summer, he returned to France with Montpellier.

In contrast, Van Dijk’s arrival transformed the Liverpool defence virtually overnight with the Dutchman having since won every major honour going since joining the Reds. He is the defender Kopites initially thought that they had in Sakho as Klopp first started turning doubters into believers. The German’s stubbornness might have prompted bemusement at the time, but he hasn’t been questioned since.

As a result, the Frenchman is now ultimately just one of seven centre-backs signed between 2013 and 2017 as the club kept trying and failing to replace the legendary Jamie Carragher and shore up a poor Liverpool defence. With such business a mild version of Manchester United’s own miserable outlay of £423m spent on 17 defenders since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

At least the Reds learnt their lesson, rectified their issues with the £75m arrival of Van Dijk and offloaded the seemingly disruptive, albeit popular, Sakho as quickly as possible. While the defender was never left at Alcatraz as Klopp had tongue-in-cheek warned, it’s clear the German’s patience with the defender was running extremely thin and about to expire.

It’s impossible to say whether further detail will ever come out regarding the Frenchman’s falling out with Klopp that led to him being frozen out. Regardless, it remains one of the more intriguing exits in recent Liverpool history and proved, behind all the laughter, the Reds manager really is not a man to mess with.



#640979 - 27/07/22 01:28 PM Re: The Curious Case of Mamadou Sakho & why Klopp is a BOSS! [Re: Pickles]
Pickles Offline
1st Team Squad

Registered: 23/12/15
Posts: 5905
Handled professionally and without the histrionics. You've got to applaud Klopp the way he handled this situation.


#641063 - 07/08/22 07:44 AM Re: The Curious Case of Mamadou Sakho & why Klopp is a BOSS! [Re: Pickles]
AccaBoosty Offline
Under 23 Player

Registered: 23/11/11
Posts: 3743
I think what is even more impressive is that we turned a profit on him when he went to Palace despite him being persona non grata.

He was in good form so his absence from the Europa League and PL run in certainly cost us a CL spot. So you have to wonder if there was something else going on with the episode of the mysterious unbanned substance. He obviously made a few quid off the back of the wrongful penalty. Perhaps his knowledge that he had UEFA and World Doping Agency firmly by the bollox led to his unbearable arrogance.

I think that video clip also shows that Sturridge either has an extremely dry sense of humour or that he didn't want to be associated with the high jinx of Sakho.

A good read Pickles. Certainly much retrospective good for thought there.


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