There are several sights that can herald the fact that summer has well and truly arrived.
The days get longer, the nights get lighter, the sun shines, and eventually―when the stars are aligned in just the right manner―the French left-back Aly Cissokho will be linked with a move to Liverpool.
The 25-year-old has assumed almost cult figure status with Reds fans despite never having kicked a ball for the club.
Over the past few years the former Porto, Lyon and current Valencia full-back has become a name that Reds fans have got used to seeing next to their club's in the newspaper gossip columns, never quite believing that he would one day be seen holding a Liverpool scarf above his head because, quite simply, the transfer was never going to be completed.
Regardless of who Liverpool’s manager has been in the past few years, the Cissokho link has been there with stories such as this one from the Metro two years ago―which indicated that the Frenchman was about to sign and ensure that the Reds’ interest in Jose Enrique would end―a common occurrence.
Cissokho is not alone though. The Portugal midfield player Simao Sabrosa, from the Independent, and Dutch winger Eljero Elia, as reported by the Daily Mail, are others upon whom column inches have been wasted, but perhaps things appear set to change.
Those Cissokho stories would never have been without some foundation of course, whether that be a good relationship between the Reds and his agent or otherwise, but suddenly they are getting louder and more convincing, including this report from the Daily Mirror.
With Brendan Rodgers admitting that he is targeting a left-back this summer to Sky Sports, the Cissokho stories have become more widespread. Talk of a one-year loan fee with an option to buy next summer makes sense.
A move for the once-capped full-back would make sense too, particularly given that the Reds are a little lop-sided in defence.
Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom, Jon Flanagan, the youngster Ryan McLaughlin and even Martin Skrtel are all capable of playing on the right side of a back four, but only Enrique and Jack Robinson specialise in starting on the left.
Johnson can operate there too if needed, but with the youngster Robinson acting as Enrique’s only deputy, an addition there would be welcomed.
Cissokho would be a good addition too, despite his humble beginnings.
After making his professional debut with FC Gueugnon in France’s Ligue 2 in May 2007, he moved to Vitoria Setubal in Portugal following his side’s relegation to the French third tier. He would only need 15 league games there to convince Portuguese superpowers Porto that he was good enough for a place in their team, and a rapid 18-month rise to the top was completed.
Porto boss Jesualdo Ferreira had no hesitation in putting Cissokho straight into his starting line-up, and he came to prominence on the European stage when he performed well against Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in a Champions League quarter-final tie in 2009.
He’d cost Porto just €300,000, but AC Milan had seen enough to make a €15 million move for him in the summer of 2009, but just when the move appeared set for completion, Cissokho failed his medical due to a bizarre problem concerning his teeth that could indicate potential spinal problems in later life, as reported by Sky Sports.
Milan pulled out of the deal, but those teeth didn’t dissuade Lyon from making their own €15 million move, and Cissokho signed that summer.
Powerful, good coming forward but perhaps not the most elegant with the ball, the full-back played at Lyon for three seasons―facing Liverpool in the Champions League twice―before moving on to Valencia in 2012, and not heading to Anfield as rumours had indicated.
After just one season in Spain, he now seems set to move on again, with Sunderland reportedly leading the race for his signature this summer only for Liverpool step in, according to the Sunderland Echo.
With his career somewhat at a crossroads, an initial loan move would make sense for Liverpool, who could perhaps send Robinson away temporarily to gain more first-team experience while Cissokho challenges Enrique for a first team place.
Should he do that impressively then a permanent deal for a player Liverpool fans never thought they’d see playing for them could then be wrapped up.
And another sign that summer is here would have to be found.