Liverpool have been hit by negative news for next year, meaning an extra amount of planning will have to come between now and the summer.
Trio likely absent for testing period
Last time out, a handy date-change for the Africa Cup of Nations meant that Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Naby Keita all took part in their Continental championship over the summer.
While they missed out on recuperation time between campaigns, they at least didn’t miss any Liverpool games—other than Mane at the start of the year as he returned so late.
Next year, though, they’ll all miss considerably more time, assuming form and fitness, with the news that the AFCON 2021 will be held in the UK winter, as it was previously.
Jurgen Klopp and Co will need to ensure the squad is full of talent to take their place at a busy time, likely around this point next year with several league and FA Cup games on the agenda.
Perhaps the Premier League‘s winter break will be switched accordingly…
Do we need to talk Kai?
Ok, so the transfer rumours linking the Reds to Kai Havertz resurfaced recently…and they keep coming.
Out of Germany and over to Spain, the suggestion is that the Reds are pushing hard for the 20-year-old and are willing to go to around €125 million (£107m) to land him.
The German international has not been as stellar this year as he was last term, when he discovered a rich vein of scoring form as a second forward – this year it’s two goals and one assist in the Bundesliga.
But his promise is enormous and he can fill a variety of roles, as a No. 8, a No. 10 or from the right, generally.
It still seems far-fetched that we wouldn’t pay that sort of money for Jadon Sancho and the likes, but would do for Havertz. The rumours will run for a while, but there’s almost certainly a gap in midfield come summer.
Seniors prep for United and glory
Of all the great performances and results we’ve had this season so far, it’s safe to say fans would dearly love the biggest and best of all this weekend. It’s Man United, which is enough of a reason, but they’re also the only team to stop us taking three points this term. Batter them!
- Bobby Firmino is keeping his eyes on the prize, saying mentality is key after the Reds “hit the post” last season
- Fabinho is back in training and available for the weekend, but there was no Shaqiri and three others missed out too
- And captain Jordan Henderson was named Player of the Year for the England men’s national team
FA Cup update and hopes for the future
In case you missed it last night, Shrewsbury beat Bristol City 1-0 in their FA Cup replay, so the Reds will head to the League One side for the fourth-round encounter.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Shrews, including their manager, key players, their ground with safe standing sections and more.
It’s likely that Klopp will play a host of youngsters again after they beat Everton‘s first team in the last round (that will never, ever, ever not be funny), but returning seniors including Matip, Lovren, Shaqiri et al could also feature if they’re fit.
One youngster who might not be involved but has hit the ground running with the U23s is Joe Hardy.
The striker has been talked up by Neil Critchley and says he’ll play a valuable role for the side this season.
Key backroom staff member chosen
We’ll have a new head of medical soon: Gary O’Driscoll is joining from Arsenal, replacing FIFA-bound Andrew Massey.
The Athletic report that the Gunners are disappointed O’Driscoll has opted to depart, having spent a decade with the club, while he previously worked with the Ireland rugby union team, too.
Massey has been with the Reds since 2013, but in March he takes up his new post.
O’Driscoll has handed in his resignation to Arsenal, so we can likely expect to see him start with Liverpool around the same time.
Quickfire LFC news
- The quintet of Ali, Trent, Robbo, Virgil and Sadio all made the UEFA Team of the Year. Presumably people felt sorry for footballers who don’t wear the Liverbird, rather than just giving us all 11 places (UEFA)
- Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi reckons Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez should have beaten Sadio Mane to the African Footballer of the Year award. We just wish we could unravel the mystery of why he came to such an unexpected conclusion (Goal)
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he loves scoring goals like Steven Gerrard did, at the Kop end at Anfield. One this weekend please Ox! (LFC)
- And Liverpool have been nominated for two Laureus awards: Team of the Year (naturally) and Comeback of the Year (sure you can guess which game) (BBC Sport)
Around the Prem
- Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been suspended for three games after all, despite an eventual appeal by the Gunners (Goal)
- Inter are in talks with Giroud of Chelsea and Eriksen of Spurs, offering around £8m for the latter – Spurs want double. About a year ago they wanted £40m or more… (Sky Sports)
- Spurs are busy – they’re trying to sign Porto striker Ze Luis, but face work permit struggles (Mirror)
- And Mikel Arteta says he was never interested in signing John Stones. Didn’t read the rest but presumably he followed it up by saying he wanted to actually make his defence capable of defending… (Sky Sports)
Impressive contract renewal of the day
How old are you? How fit are you? Reckon you do a job in a top flight somewhere low-key?
Kazuyoshi Miura can—he’s signed a one-year renewal with Japanese side Yokohama FC, heading into the new J-League season…and he’s 52, with another birthday next month.
Fair play—he’s older than Klopp!
Video of the day
What we’re reading
UEFA’s list of 50 players to watch in 2020. No young Reds on there unfortunately! But plenty of excellent talent.
And James Pearce has a piece for the Athletic where Youri Djorkaeff admits he turned down the Reds in favour of Bolton. Hmmm.
Worth watching tonight
FA Cup replay, Man United vs. Wolves. Preferably going to extra time, with a demoralising late home defeat for Ole’s fellas. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.