Liverpool ‘to hold talks in an attempt to delay Africa Cup of Nations disruption’ with Jurgen Klopp facing the nightmare of losing star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for up to EIGHT matches
- The African Cup of Nations is scheduled for January 9 to February 6, 2022
- But FIFA under rules countries can ask for players to be released on December 27
- Liverpool face losing Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in that period
- The Reds potentially play eight fixtures in that time, including a trip to Chelsea
Liverpool are set to hold talks aimed at reducing the time their key players are away at the Africa Cup of Nations as Jurgen Klopp faces life without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The Reds’ campaign was decimated last season as injury blows reduced their squad to the bare bones. Now, Liverpool face the risk of becoming threadbare once again during the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament means Klopp will suffer through the nightmare of being without both Mane – who plays for Senegal – and Salah, who captains Egypt – up front, along with Naby Keita in midfield.
Jurgen Klopp (left) could face eight games without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (right)
AFCON is scheduled for January 9 to February 6, 2022, following the tournament’s switch from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But under current FIFA rules, qualifying countries can ask for their players to be released on December 27 following their Premier League Boxing Day fixtures.
Liverpool could play a potential eight fixtures in that time, including four Premier League games, two FA Cup encounters and two Carabao Cup semi-final legs.
Midfielder Naby Keita (centre), who scored against Atletico Madrid, will also leave for AFCON
But the Reds boss has a good relationship with all three national teams and is hoping talks over the November international break will persuade the countries to release their players in January instead, according to The Mirror.
Klopp’s side travel to Leicester City on December 28, before facing a crucial clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on January 2 and Liverpool will be desperate to hold on to their frontline stars for the crunch games.
If the Merseysiders can persuade the respective nations to let the trio leave after the trip to Chelsea in the New Year, it would still give them more than a week to prepare for the opening fixtures.
The Egyptian has been in phenomenal form this season and his absence will come as a blow
AFCON gets underway on January 9 when host nation Cameroon take on Burkina Faso in the opening game.
Senegal and Guinea play their opening matches on January 10, while Egypt’s first encounter will come two days later when they go head-to-head with Nigeria.
The final is set to be played on February 6 and if Egypt, Senegal or Guinea make it all the way, one or more of the Reds’ African delegation may not be available for club fixtures until the Champions League knockout stages get underway in mid-February.
The Pharoahs in particular will certainly fancy their chances of a good run with their talisman but life without Salah will be nothing short of a blow for Liverpool.
Egypt will certainly fancy their chances of a good run armed with their talisman Salah
The Ballon d’Or nominee has been in firing form this term, netting 12 goals in all competitions so far and shows no signs of stopping.
Klopp has not hesitated in the past to make his feelings about the impact of the tournament known, branding it a ‘catastrophe’.
Speaking about the timing of AFCON in January 2020, Klopp said: ‘I like the competition… [but] the African Cup of Nations going back to January is, for us, a catastrophe.
‘On top of that we have absolutely no power so if we did say, ‘We don’t let him go’, the player is suspended.
‘How is that possible that the company who pays the player cannot decide that the player has to stay or not?’
Potential fixtures Liverpool will be without Mane and Salah
December 28 – Premier League – Leicester City (A)
January 2 – Premier League – Chelsea (A)
W/C January 3 – Carabao Cup Semi-final First Leg
January 8 – FA Cup Third Round
W/C January 10 – Carabao Cup Semi-final Second Leg
January 15 – Premier League – Brentford (H)
January 22 – Premier League – Crystal Palace (A)
February 5 – FA Cup Fourth Round