Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has insisted that he won’t consider a player’s vaccination status before attempting to sign them after Jurgen Klopp claimed he would be against signing players that have not received the coronavirus vaccines.
The German boss has confirmed in the past that 99 per cent of his Liverpool players are vaccinated and labelled those that aren’t as a ‘constant threat’, but former Premier League midfielder Barton insists it’s ‘wrong’ to not sign players because of their vaccine status.
“Can I just say, on the record, I’ve seen managers – Liverpool, Man United – saying they won’t sign unvaccinated players, I’ll let you know we’ll definitely sign unvaccinated players. We just want good players,” Barton told the press (via the Bristol Post).
“And I know there’s loads of conjecture about whether players are getting jabbed. For me, you’ve got to be careful about telling people what to do. If lads don’t want to do it, they don’t want to do it.
“Most lads I know are doing it. But also there are some people who just don’t want to. And you have to respect that.
“We have to be mindful, there are going to be loads of good players who for whatever reason don’t want to take a chance, for whatever reason; their research and information they’ve garnered and the risk posed to them.
“I think it’s wrong for people to come out and say they wouldn’t do this, and they wouldn’t do that. Categorically, we just want to sign good players.
“Whether or not they’re vaccinated or not is their choice – like their religion, or sex, or whatever they choose to do. You’ve got to respect that and be careful not to pressurise players to do something they don’t want to do.
“They should come to that natural run of events, I don’t think it should be football managers coming out and pressurising young men into potentially life-changing decisions.”
Barton has been unable to name a 14 man squad in his last three games due to the increasing number of positive cases in his squad and Rovers have therefore not played since December 11.
Whilst we respect everybody’s decision, it’s understandable why Ralf Rangnick and Steven Gerrard have hinted that vaccinations are a factor that will be considered when welcoming new players into their squads.
It’ll be interesting to see in the coming months whether governing bodies introduce rules surrounding whether players need the vaccine or not – at the moment it is not mandatory.