Klopp to defy FIFA ruling with Liverpool talks planned over lifeline AFCON plan

Date published: Friday 22nd October 2021 11:13 - Jonny Whitfield

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Mohamed Salah May 2021

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes to persuade bosses at his African stars’ football associations to let them leave for the Africa Cup of Nations at a later date than planned.

Cameroon will host the latest edition of the continental tournament in January. The last AFCON came in the summer of 2019, the first time the competition moved from the winter months.

Cameroon had hoped to follow suit in summer 2022, but climate concerns pushed the start date back. As such, a host of Premier League stars will miss games for their clubs.

Liverpool, though, will prove one of the worst-affected teams. They will be without Senegal and Egypt duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, as well as Guinea midfielder Naby Keita.

While the tournament starts on January 9, FIFA rules state that qualifying clubs can ask their stars to begin international duty on December 27.

According to the Daily Mirror, though, Liverpool boss Klopp will try to let his players go later than that.

The Reds face Leicester away on December 28 before travelling to Chelsea on January 2. As such, Klopp wants his stars to leave for the Africa Cup of Nations after the latter game.

Salah, Mane and Keita would still have more than a week to prepare for their opening games if that was the case.

Indeed, Senegal and Guinea play on January 10 while Egypt’s first tournament fixture comes a day later.

Klopp is hoping that he can use his strong relationship with the bosses at the football associations of all three countries to aid him in the talks, which he will have during the November international break.

Klopp, Liverpool face FIFA barrier

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Nevertheless, a report from The Athletic has shed further light on FIFA’s take on the situation.

Football’s world governing body has said that regardless of when a nation’s opening game comes, players should be released on December 27.

Liverpool are not the only team facing absences of key players during the tournament, though.

Chelsea will lose Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. He helped earn the Blues three points against Brentford with a number of fantastic saves.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will lose Thomas Partey (Ghana) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) among others.

As Man Utd struggle, can Spurs, Arsenal or Leicester gatecrash the Premier League’s top four?

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