Mamadou Sakho beams a huge, knowing grin when asked if he’s figured out how to stop Luis Suarez in practice.
The Frenchman has watched with delight in recent weeks as opposition defenders have tried and failed to keep the irrepressible Uruguayan in line.
Sakho, however, has the opportunity to pit his wits against the skilful No. 7 out on the practice field on a daily basis.
So what has he picked up from Suarez at Melwood? And how does the powerful Parisian fare when he comes face-to-face with the Barclays Premier League’s leading scorer?
“When we are on opposite sides we have one-to-one situations where sometimes he comes out on top, other times I do,” Sakho told Liverpoolfc.com. “All I do is to try and play my own game and show my own qualities, but for sure, it’s tough against Luis because he’s a world-class striker.
“That helps us to improve and it always goes well when we’re up against each other in training.
“It’s true that it’s always better to have him on your side than be up against him. I’m lucky enough to play with him, but the most important thing is that Luis gives everything for the team.
“He really makes himself available for the group just like all the players here and that’s why Liverpool are continuing to make progress with every game.”
Suarez was unplayable during Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday, firing two trademark strikes and producing three assists for his teammates.
However, at the other end, Sakho was equally impressive, striding out of defense to sweep up the danger and deny Spurs a single shot on target throughout the entire game.
“It was a great atmosphere in the dressing room after that win,” reflected the 23-year-old. “It’s normal to have celebrated and savoured the moment because it’s not every day that you win at Tottenham by five clear goals.
“We were very happy with how the match went, very satisfied with the result and with all the effort put in by everyone.
“I think it simply shows that Liverpool are right in the mix and that we want to remain in and around the top of the table.
“I think it’s a very strong message that we’ve sent, and while our main aim is to be in the places for the Champions League, we will see how things stand towards the end of the season to see if we are in the running for the title itself.
“But the first target is to get back on the European stage once again.”
Sakho went agonizingly close to registering his second goal in consecutive matches for the Reds when he towered above his man to meet Raheem Sterling‘s weighted cross at the Lane.
However, his header smashed back off the post, meaning his tally for the season remains at one — his strike at the Kop end against West Ham.
But has the defender set himself any goalscoring targets for the campaign?
“Yes, I do set myself targets,” said Sakho. “I have my own little goals quota, even if it’s quite tough to achieve as a defender.
“But honestly, yes, it was a shame that I couldn’t quite convert that chance but the main thing is that the team went on to win the game, and also kept a clean sheet, because we hadn’t for a while.
“Any goal for me is of secondary importance in comparison to the team winning the game.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com