AFCON a 'catastrophe' for Liverpool - Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has called the decision to move the Africa Cup of Nations back to January a "catastrophe," with the switch meaning he will likely have to go without key players Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for a month next season.
Salah plays for Egypt at international level, while Mane represents Senegal, who were runners-up at last year's edition of the tournament. In 2021, the continental competition is moving back to a January-February slot in the congested global football calendar, a development unpopular with Klopp.
"Do I want to open this book now?" Klopp said at a news conference on Friday. "I couldn't respect [the competition] more than I do ... but it is an obvious problem to play a tournament midway in a season.
"For us it's a catastrophe. If we say [a player] can't go, he's suspended. How can the club who pay his salary not decide? If he's injured and we say he cannot play for us, we have to send him to Africa, so they can have a look.
"These are all things that should not be like this. I speak about it now and no one will listen. They will say, 'the moaner from Liverpool again.' It's a complete waste of time, [but] as long as nothing changes, I will keep saying it. It's about the players, not me."
Klopp's Liverpool side were forced to field an inexperienced side against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup in December, while the rest of the squad traveled to Qatar for the Club World Cup. The Premier League leaders lifted the Club World Cup trophy, but Villa defeated Liverpool 5-0.
Klopp said he believes the increasing number of games each season shows disregard for player welfare.
"FIFA, who should [step in] doesn't look like being involved," he said. "It's a strange situation. If we want less games they will say take less money. I will say, I am ready to do so, yes.
"These tournaments are played by players, they don't have a break. I feel massively for Harry Kane -- he might miss the Euros because of too many games. It is not easy. No one thinks of players' welfare. All authorities need to come together to sort these things. No one talks.
"It is another tournament, there are too many of them. Anther thing is it doesn't help African players. We won't sell Naby Keita, Mo or Sadio because of it, but if we bring someone in, it affects the decision."
Liverpool take on rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday. United, who are fifth in the league, trail Liverpool by 27 points.
"When we play Man United, it is the most important game of the year, same with Everton," Klopp said.
"We all know how important it is to our supporters. But we play all games for our fans, not just these games. They are a natural enemy with the history and success, but we said long ago, we have to write our own history."