Sam Allardyce thinks Crystal Palace will find it 'very difficult' to keep Liverpool loanee Mamadou Sakho after his loan deal expires at the end of the season and underlined the Frenchman's growing importance at Selhurst Park.
Sakho joined Palace from Liverpool on deadline day and has delivered a number of steadfast performances at the heart of Allardyce's defence, and the former England manager has been impressed by the defender's leadership qualities.
Allardyce is more than open to signing Sakho on a permanent deal but knows that striking a deal with Liverpool, who have slapped a £30m price tag on the 27-year-old, could prove difficult.
"In the end, it will be very difficult but that will be down to the club, Mama and Liverpool to discuss at the end of the season," the Crystal Palace boss told the Croydon Advertiser. "He is massive (for Crystal Palace), there's no doubt about that.
"I think that his leadership as well as his ability has been a massive plus for me. I didn't know he had such great leadership qualities in the dressing room, at the training ground and on the pitch. He is a leader and they are rare and getting fewer and further between now than ever before. He takes responsibility, talks to other players and discusses what should happen and what shouldn't happen."
Sakho has started Crystal Palace's last seven matches but will have to sit out on Saturday (22 April) when the Eagles travel to Anfield to face his parent club Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp's men are unbeaten in their last seven matches but Palace, who have pulled themselves away from the relegation mire, will bolstered by their recent record at Anfield. They have won their last two matches on the Reds' home turf, but they were soundly beaten 4-2 when the two sides met at Selhurst Park in October.