Jurgen Klopp says Africa Cup of Nations' move to January is a 'catastrophe' for Liverpool

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Jurgen Klopp
Image: Jurgen Klopp says complaining about the organisation of the tournament is a 'complete waste of time'

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has described the decision to move the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to January as a "catastrophe" for the club.

The tournament was due to be held in June and July next year but, due to weather conditions in the country at that time, the Cameroon Football Federation has decided to stage it between January 9 and February 6 - dates which will cause disruption for Premier League clubs.

Liverpool will be among the worst affected with Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Naby Keita (Guinea) all potentially unavailable during that period.

Mo Salah celebrates a goal for Liverpool
Image: Liverpool forwards Mo Salah and Sadio Mane would both miss up to a month of Premier League action

Klopp criticised organisers for making the announcement without consulting players or club sides and made a plea to the decision makers to reconsider.

"Do we really want to open this book? I couldn't respect Africa Cup of Nations more than I do, I like it, I've watched it a lot with difficult circumstances a lot of times," he said.

"But it's an obvious problem playing it in the middle of the season. It's their winter and I get that. A general problem is FIFA plays a tournament in 2021 a week or so after Africa Cup of Nations would have started. I mentioned that in past.

Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 1:43
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp explains why it has been so hard to play against Manchester United in recent meetings

"It doesn't help Africa's players. We won't sell Sadio (Mane), Mo (Salah) and Naby(Keita) because they're playing in January, of course not but if you are thinking of buying one, you have to think about they won't play for a month in January. We have to think about that. Players aren't asked.

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"FIFA, who should [step in] doesn't look like being involved. It's a strange situation. If we want lesser 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 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.

Jurgen Klopp applauds the crowd after the game 0:43
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp thinks his side need to learn from their last match against Manchester United in the Premier League

"No one talks to each other, they just make a decision. Ask one of the teams what they think playing another game.

"Everyone has reasons to keep competitions and bring in new competitions. That's the problem. 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. We don't have any say. We just plan the route. These are all things that should not be like this.

"I speak about it now and no one will listen to the moaner from Liverpool again. It's a complete waste of time. As long as nothing changes, I will keep saying it. It's about the players, not me."

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Cisse: Mane can become 'the very best'

Sadio Mane's success at Liverpool and with the Senegal national team could see him become the "very best" forward in the world, according to compatriot Papiss Cisse.

Mane lifted the African Player of the Year award last year, becoming only the second Senegalese winner of the accolade after El-Hadji Diouf in 2001, as he guided his country to the African Cup of Nations final.

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Former Newcastle striker Cisse told The Sun: "Mane is doing very well at Liverpool and I knew he would make it to the top - but he can do even more.

"If you are doing something like this and reaching these levels then you cannot stop, you need to push again to show you can do even more.

"Every time we speak on the phone I tell him 'You can do it, you can become the very best. Believe in yourself'."

Sadio Mane pipped club team-mate Mohamed Salah to the African Player of the Year award last year
Image: Sadio Mane pipped club team-mate Mohamed Salah to the African Player of the Year award last year

Cisse, who spent around two-and-a-half years in the national team set-up with Mane before announcing his retirement from international football in 2015, concedes it was a privilege to line up alongside his fellow forward.

"For me, it shouldn't matter who you play football with, as football is a language in itself," Cisse added.

"And playing in the same team as Mane was no different - we were able to speak the same language because he is so intelligent with and without the ball.

"I felt a special connection, as does everyone who gets to play with him."

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