Klopp reveals Liverpool considered key pitfall of Salah, Mane deals

Date published: Sunday 31st May 2020 2:41


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that the risk of losing Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations was “always” under consideration before both deals went through.

Salah and Mane, who moved to Anfield in the summers of 2016 and 2017, respectively, have become unmissable parts of Klopp’s team and are largely responsible for the Reds’ incredible upturn in form over the past three seasons.

However, the African stars are also icons in Senegal and Egypt, with Mane going all the way to the AFCON final last summer – his 55th and final game of an exhausting season.

Africa’s elite tournament was moved to the summer months last year after previously being held in winter, meaning Mane and Salah were both allowed to complete their domestic campaigns.

Speaking in an interview six weeks after Liverpool‘s Champions League triumph last year – for a new book on African players – Klopp revealed that the prospect of losing the pair, as well as Guinea star Naby Keita, was always on his mind.

“It’s still better than it used to be because before they were out in the middle of the season,” the German said (via The Guardian).

“In the past because the Africa Cup of Nations was in the winter it was really a reason not to sign an African player because you would lose him for four weeks in the middle of the season.

“That was really something we had in our minds always.”

The Africa Cup of Nations has since been moved back to the winter for the proposed 2021 tournament, although that time frame is now under threat due to the global pandemic.

Asked about the decision in January to move the tournament back, Klopp’s stance quickly changed and he went on a lengthy rant about the move in a press conference.

The German boss called it a “catastrophe” for his side, adding that it is an “obvious” problem to host a tournament midway through a season.

There were also concerns earlier in the season about whether Salah would be back in time for pre-season next term if he participated in the Olympics, but the global pandemic has seen the Tokyo Games postponed until 2021.

In other news, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has said that he was never really worried about the prospect of the Premier League season being declared null and void.

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