Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp admitted that a recent change of dates to the Africa Cup of Nations poses a problem to his side but that they won’t be forced to sell either Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Naby Keita as a result.
African governing body CAF agreed with hosts Cameroon to switch next year’s Nations Cup to its previous January-February timing after the previous edition, which took place in Egypt, was played in the summer for the first time last year.
“It’s a real problem that a continental tournament is held in the middle of the season, I understand that it’s reasonable to play the tournament in the winter because the weather will be better,” Klopp told a news conference on Friday.
“The first thing is that FIFA plans a tournament in the summer of 2021. A week later the AFCON would have started I think. Another tournament for a lot of world-class players,” he added, referring to a revamped version of the Club World Cup.
Three of Liverpool’s stars are the standout players of their national team; Salah for Egypt, Mane for Senegal and Guinea’s Keita.
“We will not sell Sadio, Mo or Naby now because they have an extra tournament in January and February, but if you have to make a decision to bring in a player, it is a massive one because you know before the season for four weeks round about you no longer have him,” Klopp added.
The 52-year-old expressed more than once his displeasure with the amount of games his players to have to play, which may lead to injuries.
“The new Club World Cup in 2021 will provide the teams with more amount of money. I know the discussions will start in the moment we ask for fewer games, everybody will tell us take lesser money, so I’m ready to do so,” he said.