John Aldridge: Are Mamadou Sakho's antics part of a plan to get a big-money move?
MAMADOU SAKHO was sent home from Liverpool's tour of America due to ill-discipline this week.
I wonder whether it may all be part of a plan to get himself a big-money move this summer.
Here is a guy who failed a drugs test back in April and as a result, he threw Liverpool's end-of-season plans in turmoil as they were short of defensive options heading into the final games that included a Europa League final.
While UEFA eventually cleared him of wrongdoing over the failed test, you would expect him to be on his best behaviour as he resumed his career on Liverpool’s tour of America.
Instead, he has let himself down badly in the last few days.
First, he nearly missed the team flight to the States, then he was absent from a training session for an unknown reason before arrivng late for a team meal.
No wonder Klopp wasn't amused when Sakho interrupted an interview he was doing the other day and that appeared to be the final straw.
Given that catalogue of indiscretions, Klopp had no option other than to send Sakho home with his tail between his legs.
While Klopp has said that he will give the player another chance to get back in his good books, the cynic in me suspects something is amiss when you see a chain of events like this.
It wouldn't surprise me if Sakho has had his head turned by an agent trying to get him a move this summer, with someone else offering a few more quid than he is getting at Liverpool.
He is a decent player, but I don't think he would be first choice under Klopp for next season and maybe that is part of the reason why he has been lacking professionalism of late.
I like the look of new signing Joel Matip and with Dejan Lovren coming good last season, and the experienced Ragnar Klavan arriving to bolster central defensive numbers, I'm not sure where Sakho fits in.
So you begin to wonder whether this player and his agent can see that the writing is on the wall and they have dreamed up a plan to cause enough trouble to get out?
Transfers are conducted in a very different manner these days and when you look at the way sponsors and all kinds of outside sources have been involved in fuelling the around Paul Pogba's transfer to Manchester United, it's all very unpleasant.
I don't like this side of the game at all but it is here to stay and we better get used to it.
You see so many players these days using their social media accounts to send out messages that agitate for a move, manipulating a club into eventually deciding that the best option is to sell them.
So it wouldn't surprise me if Sakho is shipped out of Liverpool, even though I believe he still has something to offer if Klopp has the desire to get the player's head straight.
Things have changed dramatically since my playing days and it must be tough for modern managers to keep tabs on everything their staff members are getting up to.
Around 30 years ago, most top-flight English clubs had a big drinking culture that was a part of the dressing room set-up and involved most of the players.
During my career, away trips with Ireland became wonderful social events as well as serious football matches, with our manager Jack Charlton giving us great freedom when the time was right.
This was vital in building the team spirit that took us so far as we qualified for World Cup and European Championship finals.
I remember Kevin Sheedy joining up with the Ireland squad once when he was injured and had no chance of playing in the games on a tour of America, but he wanted to come along for the craic.
Sheeds was not alone in looking forward to Ireland get-togethers as much for the fun we had as a group of lads as for the matches we played in. They were very different times.
I have spoken to some of the England players from the late 1980s and '90s, and they were all envious of the antics we were allowed to get up to.
There they were locked in their hotel rooms, while we were out having a party with the Ireland fans and enjoying the moment.
It was a similar atmosphere at Liverpool and all the clubs I played at, with animosity between team-mates never part of the agenda and rarely a row occurring between colleagues throughout my career.
We all just got on as lads back in the day and had a good laugh together.
Yet everything needs to be much more controlled now, as you cannot be spotted going out on the lash anymore.
No-one cared when we were out having a few beers or going to the cinema in Dublin on Ireland trips back in the day, but camera phones and social media channels have ended all that kind of fun.
It's a shame because some of the best memories I have from my career came from the fun I had with my team-mates, yet Klopp cannot allow his players to show any signs of indiscipline in public.
This is fully understandable, with the sight of players out drinking in a pub no longer acceptable.
So if Klopp has any suspicion that Sakho is causing trouble to get himself out of Liverpool, he will be gone quickly because this is a player who is not worth the hassle.
Liverpool would probably be forced into the transfer market if Sakho leaves the club as they will need four quality central defenders to have suitable cover to mount a title challenge, but that is a minor point as this week's events have reminded all Liverpool players that crossing this manager is not a good career move.
What Klopp has done is highlighted the manager's authority at Liverpool and confirmed that he will not take crap from any player.
Klopp's players know they cannot mess this guy around or they will pay a heavy price, and that is one positive to come out of the latest controversy surrounding Sakho.