News that France international centre-half Mamadou Sakho has been banished from Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the USA couldn’t have come at a better juncture for Arsenal.
According to the Telegraph, the France international has now “infuriated [Jurgen] Klopp on at least two occasions,” leaving his future at the club uncertain.
The Gunners, meanwhile, could be without Per Mertesacker for up to five months after he picked up an injury in a friendly against Lens, for which he has already undergone surgery.
Arsene Wenger has been quick to acknowledge the need for an experienced replacement for the World Cup winner.
Laurent Koscielny is unlikely to match fit for their opening day clash with Liverpool, having returned to the club late after his Euro 2016 exertions, while Gabriel is the only other central defender on the books of at least 25 years of age.
Wenger coveted the Anfield man long known as ‘The Beast’ as far back as 2010, when Le Parisen suggested he had been making repeated trips to the French capital to observe the then-20-year-old.
Since arriving on Merseyside for £18m in 2013, Sakho has belied an ungainly style in possession to become one of Liverpool’s two first-choice central defenders, arguably only ceding top-spot in the pantheon to Dejan Lovren as the Croatian’s renaissance gained pace in the last months of the 2015/16 campaign.
A veteran of more than 280 senior games across all club competitions (55 of which came in the Premier League), a title-winner with former club Paris Saint-Germain and capped 28 times for France, including at the 2014 World Cup, the Parisian certainly comes with experience identified by Wenger as vital in Mertesacker’s replacement.
Should he be deemed surplus to requirements by Klopp and thus likely to gather dust on the margins of the Liverpool squad this season, he might just be acquired for a reasonable price too.
Arsenal are 6/5 to down their red-clad rivals when the two sides meet at the Emirates in the first game of the campaign, with their visitors 12/5 for three points and the draw 23/10.