Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to be happy as UEFA and FIFA continue with plans for even more off-season football, with two pre-season tournaments in the pipeline.
FIFA are planning to adjust the current Club World Cup setup into a 24-team tournament to be held over the summer, beginning from 2021 and being held in eight host cities.
The first will take place in China and will include eight teams from Europe, but UEFA have their own plans to support another tournament, which is described by the Mail as “essentially an expansion of the International Champions Cup.”
Liverpool played in the ICC in 2014, 2016 and 2018, coinciding with their pre-season tours of the United States, finishing ‘runners-up’ in their first outing after four friendlies.
The United States is set to be the initial location for the new-look tournament, which will be “endorsed” by UEFA but organised by Relevent Sports, with an eight-year run to be agreed.
The Mail add that there would be a “commitment by all competing clubs to field their first-choice squads where possible,” with Liverpool one of the sides “keen to be involved.”
It is unlikely the Reds would take part every year, with seemingly 12 teams required, and it is questionable whether Klopp would support their involvement either way, due to his concerns over the increasing strain on players.
This summer alone will see Euro 2020, Copa America and the Olympics disrupt Liverpool’s pre-season schedule, while next winter brings the Africa Cup of Nations.
Mohamed Salah is one of those to be affected the most, as he is in contention for the Egypt squad at both the Olympics and the AFCON, which could see him miss the whole of pre-season and almost a month during the campaign.
The financial aspect of UEFA and FIFA’s new tournaments—the former held every year, the latter every four—is no doubt tempting clubs like Liverpool, but they could surely only work if they are treated as warmups for the season proper.
Klopp has been repeatedly critical of the demands on players due to their schedule, most recently with the busy winter calendar and the farcical mid-season break.
“If you have a good friend and you see him twice a year, brilliant. Best time of your life,” he explained in January.
“If you see him every day you think after five days, ‘what the heck?’.
“But what we do is throw football at the people. How many games were on Boxing Day? There were maybe some men, probably, who watched all of them live.
“I don’t think that’s good for their relationship. It’s not good for mine and I already watch a lot of football.
“People say ‘yeah, we only get the money we get because of the number of games’. I don’t see that. Like always in life it is about quality not quantity.
“Yes, without the money it doesn’t work but without the players it doesn’t work as well.”