Jürgen Klopp is expecting to be without Sadio Mané for the Premier League curtain-raiser against Norwich on the night of Friday 9th August.
After Senegal reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, star man Mané will be contesting the do-or-die decider against Algeria on the 19th July – exactly three weeks before the start of the league season.
Klopp has granted a three-week break to Copa América winners Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino, while Mohamed Salah too has been given a rest after a valiant showing for Egypt at the AFCON.
With the Reds’ fearsome attacking trident missing its prongs, Klopp is likely to depend on Rhian Brewster’s glimmering emergence together with future-confirmed, Champions League hero, Divock Origi.
That said, there is still a possibility that Mané could make it back to the line-up in time for Anfield’s opening night, after Jack Sear claimed the 27-year-old already had a week’s break after the final in Madrid.
Sadio Mane’s AFCON campaign will finish next Friday, exactly three weeks before Liverpool’s opener vs Norwich. Remains to be seen when he’ll return to Liverpool for pre-season. Think he had at least a weeks holiday after the CL final.
— Jack Sear (@JackSear) July 14, 2019
That might not be enough to ensure his freshness, however; especially after the blistering temperatures of an Egypt-hosted AFCON final, and since the semi-final was forced into extra-time.
Regardless, Klopp may decide not to risk the Reds’ Senegalese star even if he is available; it will be a long season, with even more fixtures than last term, plus Salah and Firmino will need to be absorbed back into the squad too.
Before the top-flight campaign kicks-off, there will be a Community Shield meeting against Manchester City on 4th August at Wembley, which could potentially see Klopp trial a personnel and formation experiment for the week afterwards.
If it is Origi and Brewster up front when Norwich come to Anfield, Klopp will be hoping they combine with full-force and get three points on the board early doors.