With the Copa America and the African Cup of Nations taking place this summer, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a big headache – that’s the view of former striker Robbie Fowler.
Alisson and Roberto Firmino are both representing Brazil in the South American tournament – and will almost certainly start in the semi-final against Argentina in the early hours of Wednesday morning – while Sadio Mane and Mo Salah are very likely to feature in the latter stages of AFCON with Senegal and Egypt respectively.
The African tournament does not conclude until the third week of July, meaning both could miss the beginning of the new season which kicks off a couple of weeks later, given they won’t have played a single minute of pre-season and will need a rest before they return to club action after a relentless 12 months.
Fowler said, via the Daily Star: “It’s bad enough the Copa America doesn’t finish until July 7. It is insane that the African Cup of Nations won’t finish until after the third week of July.
“There is a good chance that Mane and Salah will be involved in the last four – that will surely see them miss the start of the season.
“It’s worse for Liverpool, too, because Salah is playing in his home country and there is a huge weight of expectation for him to deliver.”
It really isn’t good news for the Reds but the situation has been known for some time and the club will have a plan in place already.
Normally, Klopp likes to give players a three-week break after internationals during the summer – as he did with those at the World Cup last year – before they begin pre-season.
If that is the case here, Mane and Salah might not be regularly playing for the Reds until after the first international break in September, by which time five Premier League games will have been played.
That would give Divock Origi and Harry Wilson hope as they both search for game time, while Xherdan Shaqiri could be crucial and Rhian Brewster could be heavily involved in the opening weeks. It certainly isn’t ideal.