Crystal Palace may just boast an influential weapon in their pursuit of a permanent deal for dominant loanee Mamadou Sakho, with striker Christian Benteke admitting that he is attempting to persuade his former Liverpool teammate to move to Selhurst Park on a full-time basis.
Centre-back Sakho has thrived since joining the Eagles on a six-month arrangement on January deadline day and his consistently impressive performances in the heart of defence have been instrumental in helping Sam Allardyce's side pull out of the relegation mire. The Frenchman had been feared lost for the remainder of the campaign after being stretchered off during last month's 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. But scans have allayed initial fears over the severity of a knee injury, and it is now being said that he has not given up hope of featuring in the final Premier League game of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford on 21 May.
Whether or not Sakho plays again this term, there is no doubting the significant impact he has made during his short time in south-east London.
The lack of an option to buy coupled with a lofty price tag that The Telegraph claims currently stands at £30m ($38.7m) are likely to prove considerable stumbling blocks for Palace in their bid to secure his signature on a full-time basis in the summer and Benteke knows they face an uphill battle amid interest from elsewhere.
"I'm trying to persuade him to stay but it will be tough," the Belgian international, who played alongside Sakho at Anfield for one season in 2015-16, was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard. "He'll have offers from other clubs, although our chairman and boss will try to get him to stay too."
Lauding his impact, Benteke added: "He's made such a difference to us. First, we have to make sure we remain in the Prem – but we're not far away now."
Allardyce has made little secret of his desire to keep Sakho, although concedes that it would require a "big negotiation". He also stressed that Palace must make absolutely sure of safety before switching focus to potential targets.
With three years left to run on a long-term contract extension signed in 2015, Sakho has insisted that, if he has to don the Liverpool shirt again, he will "do so with pleasure". The 27-year-old was frozen out under Jurgen Klopp after being sent home from a preseason tour of the US due to disciplinary problems and did not make a single appearance for the Reds before being dispatched to Palace.
Speaking in April, Klopp refused to be drawn on the issue of Sakho's future. He said: "There is nothing to say at this moment because you can imagine, like all the plans we have for next season, we speak about it behind closed doors. At the moment when we have to say something we will say something.
"I see a lot of Premier League games so I see Crystal Palace too and I see how he's playing there and all this stuff. When we have to say something about this we will say it."
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