Chelsea perhaps inflicted Bournemouth the biggest blow of the season when they called back their loanee and Cherries’ star defender, Nathan Ake. In the middle of the season, when Bournemouth are really doing well, getting a proper centre-back suddenly is an uphill task.
But, given the optimist Eddie Howe is, he has already started his quest for a replacement and reportedly, his search has taken him to Liverpool’s exiled player Mamadou Sakho.
Although this too will be a loan bid by Bournemouth, given his condition in Liverpool, there could be a clause to make it permanent at the end of the season. Howe wants someone who is comfortable in the centre-half position and is really composed on the ball, and Sakho could be that man.
Howe is having a race against time to land him as their captain Simon Francis is on a red card and must serve two more games in a three-match ban that he received against Arsenal. A deal looks highly likely as Howe shares a good relationship with the Reds and have signed Liverpool players like Jordan Ibe and Bad Smith from the Merseyside club lately.
Sakho, however, has his own problems. Since his rift with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, he has only featured for the Liverpool Under-23 side on five occasions. Bournemouth are not the only club making a move for the French international, as sides like West Brom, Crystal Palace and Swansea are also waiting impatiently to make a move. There are also interests from overseas clubs like Galatasaray and Sevilla.
The Reds had signed the 26-year-old along with Tiago Ilori for a combined fee of about £25m in 2013. He had cost Liverpool in the region of around £25m and Liverpool would want to get the most of it if they sell him.
A Paris Saint-Germain’s youth product, Sakho’s build is that of a strong and intelligent centre-back and his big frame of 187cm makes him quite domineering in the air. He likes to move up with short link-up plays and is strong on holding to the ball. And to complement it, his lack of playing time has filled him with the will to go out and prove himself.
Ake has been nothing short of brilliant at Bournemouth’s heart of defence and Chelsea’s decision to trigger the recall clause is totally understandable. However, getting his replacement won’t be easy and Sakho, who earns £80,000 a week even when not playing for the team, would prove a bit too much for a club like Bournemouth.