What Jurgen Klopp will have this pre-season that he’s never had before

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Liverpool are to return to pre-season training this coming weekend, presenting Jurgen Klopp with an opportunity rarely available to him since his arrival at Anfield: his entire squad.

With the ever congested fixture lists at club and international level, rarely does an entire squad assemble at the exact same time to commence their preparations for the coming season.

While some may be off in a foreign land still competing, their teammates may be lounging in the sun and enjoying a well-deserved break before switching roles as the latter returns to training.

It was a situation the Reds found themselves in with Sadio Mane last year, as 342 days after the 2018/19 season began his fixture list was complete following the Africa Cup of Nations final, 16 days before Liverpool were to play in the Community Shield against Man City.

Alisson similarly had a heavy load as a full complement of games in the league and in Europe saw him feature in all of Brazil’s games on the way to glory in the Copa America, and he would be injured on the opening day of 2019/20 at Anfield.

It is a situation Liverpool will not find themselves in this time around, however.

While not a set of circumstances one would ever wish to lead to the opportunity presented to Klopp this pre-season, the pandemic and the reshuffling of international tournaments will see the boss work with his entire squad from day one for the very first time.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his players during a water break during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propagandab)

European Championships, World Cups, AFCON, Nations League, Copa America and qualifiers for each tournament have consistently added games throughout the years, often leading to a staggered return for a side boasting a large number of international players.

At times it leaves only one week to prepare for the challenge ahead as an entire unit, not ideal for a period which is used to create the foundations for what is to come.

“Apart from the games during the season, [pre-season] is the most important thing and it has a big influence on the games,” Klopp said back in 2017. “You create a base for the whole year.”

“Of course, you learn in the season, you fine-tune, but the better the basis you can create, the better the season will be, 100 per cent.”

And with a Premier League title to retain, or attack as Klopp aptly put it, having the entire cohort of players will come as a major source of delight as the Reds still have “a lot of space for improvement yet.”

As will the fact that the players and staff will not be subjected to appearances for sponsors, open training sessions or press conferences as the pandemic ensures there will be no pre-season tour.

ROTTACH-EGERN, GERMANY - Thursday, July 27, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp cycles back from training from the Seehotel Uberfahrt on the banks of Lake Tegernsee on day two of their preseason training camp in Germany. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are hopes, however, that the usual training camp to Evian will remain possible should travel be allowed, with the variation in the routine a key principle for any athlete.

In addition to the regular grind on the training pitch, behind closed door friendlies are to take place with the likes of Tranmere and Blackburn expected to feature once more.

Liverpool’s pre-season will start on August 15, two weeks before their second successive Community Shield appearance, this time against Arsenal.

New signing Kostas Tsimikas is expected to be involved in the early stages but could find himself away from the team alongside the club’s other internationals in the break which precedes the start of the Premier League season on September 12/13.

The Nations League group stages in addition to other international friendlies will take place from August 31 to September 8, leaving only a handful of days to recover.

The likes of Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Trent, Williams, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri and Origi could all be involved in some capacity.

And the obvious hopes would be that injuries do not wipe out the work done throughout what will be another important and intense pre-season under Klopp and Co.

And looking further ahead, the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers, originally scheduled to take place in the October and November international periods, will now be rescheduled to 2021.

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