Jurgen Klopp ‘concerned’ as coronavirus adds to international break issues
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits the coronavirus pandemic has added to the issues facing clubs around the international break.
With the Merseyside derby against a high-flying Everton side brought forward to a 12.30 kick-off for television in the first match of the resumption on October 17, Klopp faces the prospect of making very late decisions on his Brazilian contingent of Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Fabinho.
The trio play in Peru on Wednesday evening and are not expected back at Melwood until Friday, less than 24 hours before kick-off.
All will then have to take Covid-19 tests, with the results not likely to be known until the morning of the match.
“I’m not saying this is the safest place in the world, but it’s the place we know at least. We know how to deal with the different scenarios,” said Klopp, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa.
“Yes, I am slightly concerned. It’s difficult to get in contact with all FAs all over the world.
“I understand 100 per cent the demands on FAs, UEFA and FIFA. I know how difficult the situation is for everybody but it’s not exactly perfect.
“As a football club it’s pretty often you are pretty alone in these moments.
“We send the players away, the Premier League and the TV broadcasters give us a challenge a lot because they just don’t care if our players play on Wednesday night in Peru, for example.
They arrive on Friday, we see if we can make a (coronavirus) test, and then we don't get the result until the Saturday
“They still think it’s a good idea to let us play on Saturday pretty early.
“Supporters at other clubs say I moan constantly, but I don’t moan. I know it’s difficult.
“As a club you have to make sure you bring the players home in the quickest and most safe way because nobody helps you.
“Then they arrive on Friday, we see if we can make a (coronavirus) test, and then we don’t get the result until the Saturday.
“It’s really tricky. We try everything to make it right and safe as possible, but from time to time a little more help would not be bad.”
With those considerations in mind it is imperative Liverpool go into the international break with their 100 per cent record intact, especially considering how well their Merseyside neighbours have been doing.
Sadio Mane has scored three goals in his last two matches and this weekend returns to the ground where his added-time winner last November – with Liverpool having been behind until the 87th minute – was one of the pivotal moments of their title campaign.
Since then the Senegal forward has gone from strength to strength and Klopp believes he now deserves to be classed as one of the best in the world.
“I hoped he would reach that level, 100 per cent, because the combination of speed, physicality, technique and awareness is pretty rare,” he added.
“From a talent to a settled and proven world-class player is a big step because you have to do it pretty much week in, week out and that is what he is able to do.
“So, yeah, massive development. I have no idea what kind of number but for sure in the top offensive winger, strikers, whatever, in the world.
“I think everyone would agree on that and that is why I am really happy to have him.”