Klopp rues AFCON January switch

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the decision to move the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) back to its traditional January slot is a “catastrophe” for the club.

The tournament was scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon in the summer of 2021, which already clashed with the expanded Club World Cup – of which the Reds are currently champions – but has been switched because of concerns over the climate in the country in July.

That is likely to mean Klopp will be without Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Guinea’s Naby Keita for some or all of the six-week period.

“The African Cup of Nations going back to January is, for us, a catastrophe,” said the Liverpool manager, who claims the decision will affect the club’s transfer policy.

“We will not sell Sadio, Mo or Naby now because they have a tournament in January and February – of course not.

“But if you have to make a decision about bringing in a player, it is a massive one because before the season you know for four weeks you don’t have them. That’s a normal process and as a club you have to think about these things.”

Klopp has been a long-time, outspoken critic of a bloated and often chaotic fixture schedule which has what he feels are unnecessary clashes at both international and domestic level.

There are so many things to sort but all these guys never find time to sit around one table and make a general schedule.

Over the last month the Liverpool manager has been vocal in his opposition to the festive calendar, two-legged Carabao Cup semi-finals and FA Cup replays, in addition to the farcical clash between the Club World Cup in Qatar and Carabao Cup quarter-final which forced the Reds to field a youth team in the defeat at Aston Villa.