Although the writing had been on the wall for all to see, Mamadou Sakho seems to have finally got the message about his future at Liverpool.
The French defender is now reportedly ready to leave Merseyside having been banished to the U23s and failing to be selected in a team of 11 changes for the EFL Cup against Tottenham in midweek.
A falling out with Jurgen Klopp on the club’s pre-season tour of America was the catalyst for Sakho’s disappearance and the former Paris Saint-Germain captain hasn’t been selected in a senior matchday squad since.
Having initially indicated a willingness to fight for his place, the 26-year-old now appears resigned to leaving Anfield in January to resurrect his career.
Clubs in his homeland are keen to save the 28-cap French international, with the Daily Mirror reporting that Lille are among the interested parties.
However, Stoke could be tempted to return for the centre-back, having lodged a loan bid for Sakho on transfer Deadline Day.
The player rejected the move at the time, as he was still prepared to iron out his issues with Klopp. But with that bridge clearly burned to a cinder, a switch to the Potteries would likely be more amenable now.
Mark Hughes’ men have conceded more goals than all bar two fellow Premier League clubs this season, although they are currently on a two-game clean-sheet streak.
Nevertheless, adding Sakho to the squad, even on loan, would upgrade the Welshman’s options at the heart of the defence.
The player himself may also see former teammate Joe Allen’s successful career rebuild at the club as another reason to move to Stoke, who are 11/4 to climb the table from 16th and finish in the top 10 this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing