Sometimes a football club’s pursuit of a player is very public; on other occasions … and this used to be “The Liverpool Way” … a deal is concluded quietly and quickly. Twenty-five year old defender Aly Cissokho falls into the second category. Even though it wasn’t a secret that manager Brendan Rodgers wished to strengthen the left-back area of his defence, Cissokho’s season-long signing from Spanish giants Valencia was confirmed only days after he had been first linked with a move to England. Although sitting tenant Jose Enrique had played in 84% of the Premier League matches since his arrival from Newcastle United in 2011, it was clear that he now had a serious rival to his place in the first team, especially as Rodgers had allowed the man many saw as his natural replacement, Jack Robinson, to move to Blackpool, also on a season-long loan.
Brought up in Blois, a small town on the banks of the river Loire, the young Cissokho played at youth level for two local clubs before moving to continue his career in the nearby town of Saint-Jean-de-la-Ruelle. From there he moved south-east to where his professional career began in earnest with FC Gueugnon and he made his debut for them in May 2007 before becoming a regular member of their first-team squad around the time of his twentieth birthday, playing in twenty-one Ligue 2 matches for Gueugnon in the 2007/08 season. At the end of that season he moved to Portugal to join Vitória Setúbal but although he signed a three-year deal within a few months Porto had swooped to add the defender to an already-strong squad. In the summer of 2009 AC Milan announced that they had signed Cissokho on a permanent deal but a problem with the player’s medical saw ‘permanent’ become ‘loan’ and in the end the Italians pulled out of the deal completely leaving Olympique Lyonnais free to come in with a firm bid themselves, which was accepted by Porto. This time there were no medical problems and a five-year deal was agreed. Cissokho failed his medical due to a bizarre problem concerning his teeth that could relate to potential spinal problems. After three successful years with Lyon, during which he won a Coupe de France winners’ medal in 2012, the defender was on the move again, this time to Valencia in Spain. Thirty-nine first-team appearances and two goals in 2012/13 persuaded Liverpool that the much-travelled defender was the right man to bolster their squad during the final days of the summer transfer-window in 2013.
Although Cissokho was born in central France, he also qualified through his parents to play for Senegal (formerly French West Africa). Although the Senegalese Football Federation approached him, they later made it clear that they preferred homegrown players not players who had been born in other countries. So ultimately it was French legend Laurent Blanc who, as manager of the national team, gave the young defender his full international debut in a friendly against Norway in August 2010. Injury to Jose Enrique gave Cissokho an earlier chance to impress at Liverpool than he probably expected. After making a brief twenty minute substitute appearance at Villa Park on the second weekend of the new season, he was picked to start the League Cup-tie against Notts County at Anfield three days later, only to limp off with less than ten minutes played! Cissokho wasn't fit to return to the first team until Liverpool travelled to Newcastle in the third week of October. He made ten successive starts from New Year's Day until the FA Cup-tie at Arsenal in the middle of February but had to be content with a place on the bench after that, only coming on for Jon Flanagan at Cardiff in March and again for the same player in the final match of the season against Newcastle United at Anfield.
Cissokho returned to Spain with two years remaining on his Valencia contract and at least impressed Paul Lambert at Aston Villa enough to offer him a four-year deal which he accepted. Cissokho played 25 league games during 2014/15, but fell out of favour when Tim Sherwood took over as manager and was loaned to FC Porto for 2015/16. However in the first half of the season he made only three appearances for the Portuguese giants and when Remi Garde replaced Sherwood he was recalled to Villa Park. Cissokho was a regular at left-back but couldn't help save Villa from relegation. Cissokho remained with Villa despite the relegation but after Steve Bruce took over as manager in October 2016 he fell out of favour. On 16 January 2017 Cissokho was loaned to Olympiacos for the remainder of the season. He joined Turkish outfit Yeni Malatyaspor in the summer of 2017. After thirty appearances in 2017-18 he was on the move again, remaining in Turkey and signing for Antalyaspor, where he made 22 appearances, creating two assists in the 2018/19 season. In 2019/20 he fell out of favour and made just three appearances, all in the cup, and was released at the end of the season. .