After making his selections for the upcoming internationals against Brazil and Denmark, France boss Didier Deschamps was quick to defend Raphael Varane and Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho over their recent form.
Asked if he was worried about the performances and ability of his central defenders, Deschamps explained to the assembled media that he remains confident in both players.
"Raphael has played a lot of matches. I do not just read the articles, but I watch all the matches.”
Deschamps explained that maybe he’s not playing the best football of his career, but that it also depends on the formation of the team.
“Their value to the team is the same as it was in Brazil. Mamadou was injured, he returned and when he returns, he is competitive again. The most important issue the potential of the player. In over 10 months, they cannot be at 100% all the time."
Sakho has played 13 times in the Premier League for Liverpool this season, including an excellent performance in their 1-0 win over Swansea on Monday night. The former PSG man is averaging six clearances per game according to Whoscored.com and wins 2.5 aerial challenges each game. When he is on the pitch, only Jordan Henderson makes as many passes every game as Sakho does.
As he regains full match sharpness and becomes a mainstay of the Liverpool defence, his passing ability will become more and more apparent, and Rodgers will have the same faith and trust that Deschamps has in the Parisian defender.
Les Bleus are blessed with a number of strong centre-back candidates, with Samuel Umtiti, Eliaquim Mangala and Aymeric Laporte missing out, but Sakho is one of Deschamps favourites and even without regaining top form, until he lets France and his coach down, he will remain an important fixture in the team.
Without Sakho, France would not have made it to the World Cup in Brazil. His two goals and inspirational performance against Ukraine were paramount to Deschamps side winning the play-off game.
He may not have shown that importance for Liverpool just yet, but with more game and a run of fitness, the man-mountain can continue to make his mark on Merseyside.