IBWM StaffComment


IBWM StaffComment
Mamadou Sakho.jpg

Mamadou Sakho     22     Defender     PSG 

This time last year our piece on Mamadou Sakho was overwhelmingly positive. Words like ‘tireless energy’, ‘excellent’, ‘assured’ and ‘Colossus’ were being bandied around and rightly so. We gave him a B and promised great things ending with the line ‘This is your time’. We made no bones about it - this was a man on a path to becoming one of the best defenders in the world.

And it was around about the time of publication of that report that his form took a Torres-esque nosedive.

We don’t consider ourselves a jinx but you never know…

What a strange year he’s had. Around him, Paris Saint-Germain have flexed their financial muscles and completely altered the profile of the team. Everyone knew it was coming as soon as the money hit the PSG coffers but Sakho was considered a cornerstone to build round while other team-mates were discarded. Maybe it was the nature of the drastic changes, maybe it was it was simply a long overdue bad spell, but something changed in the New Year and things began to crumble around him.

The second half of his 2011/12 season was hellish and nearly always difficult to watch. Mistakes, complacency, stupid fouls and needless penalties, questions over his fitness and weight, a mind that couldn’t focus - he went from club captain to the substitute’s bench in what felt like no time at all. He ended the season with huge questions over his future, nowhere near the French squad for Euro 2012, no longer considered as PSG’s captain and with domestic manager Carlo Ancelotti bringing in Thiago Silva for huge money to potentially partner fellow countryman Alex in the centre of PSG’s defence.

So a huge and shocking slide from a player we thought was as dependable as they come. Was it a mental block? Did the pressure of captaincy weigh too heavy? Had he let his fitness go? There is no definitive explanation but we think it may have been a combination of all three.

You see not everyone copes with change and over the last 18 months at PSG, there’s been plenty. It’s no coincidence (and we’re getting ahead of ourselves here) that now things have settled down there are signs of life once again. What’s that you say – it hasn’t been all doom and gloom? No and after the dramatic slide last year, this season has been a lot better.

Firstly he’s being loved again and we think this a player who needs that. After deservedly missing out on the Euros to Adil Rami and Philippe Mexés in Laurent Blanc’s first team, he didn’t even make a squad who with only Laurent Koscielny chosen as cover still didn’t have room for a defender once thought to be in line to become one of the players of the tournament.

Since the Championships a new manager has taken charge of the national team – Didier Deschamps – and Sakho has been ever-present in the first eleven. The lift this has given him is palpable, he has regained nearly all of that trust you had in him to make good decisions and lead by example, even if the actual weight of a captain’s armband proved too much for PSG.

Domestically his form also returned and he has once again become very much part of the first team. Don’t get us wrong, he’s not the player he was at his very best yet, but he’s a world away from the man that finished last season. A harsh red card against Montpellier aside, he’s barely blotted his copy-book since the return of Ligue 1 and looks a happier soul, the faith from manager’s at both levels evident and important it seems. Given time he’ll get back to his very best and become indispensible again we’re sure. To be frank, he’s far too good a player not too.

So what of the future for the man the supporters call Kirikou (a reference to his taste in hairstyles apparently)? Well it seems strange to think of a player we once thought so strong in all regards to have had such a dramatic mental issue so suddenly. The word ‘strong’ comes up a lot with Sakho, this is an all-action, powerful defender, which is why it was a massive surprise to see his form dip as dramatically as it did.

We know there’s greatness within, no more, no less. Sakho has always looked different from the crowd, he has always oozed class and despite the problems, he will get back to his brilliant best we’re absolutely sure. We also think he will have learned a lot from the experience - you learn more from your mistakes etc. His reputation took a battering but his value to the management is high again, as long as he keeps feeling the love we don’t think there’ll be too may more surprises along the way.

For a change with one of these reports it’s nice not to be discussing transfer speculation and gossip, after all who could possibly offer him to leave what PSG can to stay? Before they won the billionaire-owner-lottery he was consistently linked with Arsenal, but that seems a long time ago for a variety of reasons on both sides. We can see a potential one-club-man here and with PSG’s bright new age that can only lead to trophies, glory, and a very happy Mamadou Sakho.

“Disappointing last year and stripped of captaincy. Leading a side like PSG with no experience was a burden. Looking reinvigorated because of the freedom this season and playing much better.”Jonathan Johnson (French Football Weekly)

D     Form is temporary etc, nearly back to your old self, another month’s worth of games and this would have been a C, keep working and never go back.

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