We thought the only player we had to worry about in terms of the Olympics was Mo Salah, and Egypt’s frustrating attempts to use their star in what is an U23 tournament.
But Japan want to do the same with Taki Minamino, as well.
While the on-loan forward is not of the same calibre or anywhere near the same level of importance to Jurgen Klopp, it does put into question whether Minamino will be able to prove himself to the manager before the new campaign.
“Liverpool decided against putting an option or obligation-to-buy clause in the contract, with their plan being to bring him back in the summer so that he can undergo Klopp’s pre-season and challenge for a starting berth,” the Athletic state.
“However, that could be thrown into doubt as Japan are keen for Minamino to feature for them at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Should he attend the Games, then that would derail his chances of forcing his way into Klopp’s plans.
“If Japan were to reach the advanced stages of the tournament, which is being held from July 22 to August 7, he would not return to Merseyside until a handful of days before the Premier League season starts.
“Klopp intends to hold talks with Minamino in the coming weeks, where it is expected a final decision will be made as clubs do not have to release players for the Olympics.”
Klopp will be desperate to keep Salah, but he’ll have to play it carefully, as if Mo wants to feature, not letting him will definitely upset our most important attacker.
But Salah will already be absent at the AFCON in January and February, so another international tournament during the season is taking the mickey a little, we feel.
Taki has his own choice to make. We don’t think Klopp will stand in his way, but if he doesn’t stay and fight during the summer, any small chance of him making the Anfield grade will be over.