Jurgen Klopp made a mistake by allowing Mamadou Sakho to leave Liverpool on a permanent basis this summer, according to Phil Thompson.
Having been frozen out of the first-team picture at Anfield following a bust-up in pre-season last year, the Frenchman joined Crystal Palace on transfer deadline day last month.
However, with the Reds failing to secure the signing of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton their defensive woes are showing no signs of being solved and Thompson believes Sakho should have been handed another chance at the club.
“Our best defender at the start of this season has been allowed to leave,” Thompson told the Liverpool Echo.
“Mamadou Sakho was our best defender. He was a warrior, a fighter, a battler – all those things and you saw it at Crystal Palace last season.
“He was like that at Liverpool. I know there’s fallouts in football all the time but somewhere along the line you can’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”
A 4-0 win in the Merseyside derby against Everton in April 2016 is actually the last time Sakho made a senior appearance for Liverpool. He was wrongly banned by UEFA for taking a fat burner substance and then sent home from the club’s tour of the United States in the summer of 2016.
Despite a number of indiscretions – which included time-keeping issues – Thompson says Klopp should have made an effort to build bridges with Sakho as the result has left the Reds conceding 18 goals across all competitions so far this season.
“He should have made up with the boy, ban him for three or four months and then bring him back in,” he added.
“And now you lose out to Van Dijk for whatever reason that happened so surely you would be keeping Sakho.”