Liverpool duo close to summer switch as Klopp drops huge exit hint

Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip Liverpool June 2019

Rumours that Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Phillips are close to leaving Liverpool have increased after Jurgen Klopp left the pair out of his squad to face Osasuna on Monday.

The Reds play Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday in their Premier League opener. And the boss will hope that they are ready for action after a series of pre-season friendlies. It is always a good way to get some miles into players’ legs after the summer break.

Although it is always nice to win, the matches are far more important as a way of integrating players. And, with multiple substitutions allowed, most squad players will get a run out at some stage of the contest.

But Shaqiri and Phillips were absent from the team sheet on Monday evening, per This is Anfield. Switzerland international Shaqiri has been at Anfield for three seasons.

But he has generally been on the peripheries and is a rare starter for the Merseysiders. The Liverpool board have reportedly accepted the 29-year-old’s request for a ‘new challenge’.

And the former Stoke City midfielder has hinted that he would love to return to Italy, with Lazio his preferred destination. He previously spent six months with Inter Milan before leaving to join the Potters.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager, 2021

The former Bayern Munich ace hinted in an interview on the Liverpool website that he was looking forward to the season. But it now seems likely that he will be heading out of the Anfield exit door sooner rather than later.

Klopp reluctant to lose Phillips

Phillips, 24, had made only one appearance for the north-west giants before last season. The central defender was loaned to Stuttgart for the 2019-2020 campaign.

He made 22 appearances in all competitions and was even recalled to Liverpool for one match before returning to Germany. But last season, the Bolton-born stopper proved invaluable as he stepped in to help the club’s injury crisis.

Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip were both long-term absentees and Phillips made 17 top-flight appearances. He performed admirably as Klopp’s side rallied to finish in the top four.

But his game time might be limited once again with the big boys now back in action. It was reported at the weekend that Newcastle United had ‘made contact’ with the defender over a possible move.

Nat Phillips, Liverpool stand-in hero

Burnley, Southampton and Brighton have also been linked with the towering centre-half. Speaking in May, Klopp called Phillips ‘incredible’ for the work he had done shoring up the makeshift rearguard.

The former Borussia Dortmund chief does not want to lose him but will not stand in his way.

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