Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says the thought of a mid-season World Cup fills him with rage as elite footballers ready themselves for the most gruelling campaign yet.
Klopp doubled down on his long-held view that this year’s World Cup in Qatar is “at the wrong time for the wrong reasons” following the warning by Professional Footballers’ Association chief Maheta Molango that top players’ careers would be curtailed by the excessive workload of the international calendar.
“If all the players have a break it is not a problem,” said Klopp about the interrupted campaign ahead. “It is like a winter break which I had in Germany. The problem is the players who play the World Cup. That is just not OK.
“If you go to the final at a World Cup and win it or lose or a third-place match you are already quite busy, and then the [league] starts a week later.
“When I start talking about it, I get really angry. My problem is that as much as everybody knows it’s not right, nobody talks often enough about it that it will be changed. Something has to change. You cannot just constantly watch top-class players and say, ‘Oh my God, they are great’.
“Why wouldn’t we talk about it and do it properly and say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Fifa, Premier League, FA, start talking to each other?’ There must be one meeting where they all talk to each other and the only subject should be the most important part of this game, the players.
“This World Cup happens at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons.”
Like other Premier League clubs, Liverpool will schedule a winter camp to prepare for the league resumption on St Stephen’s Day. Klopp’s side will head to Dubai in December.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah looks re-energised, rejuvenated and ready to renew his quest for the Premier League Golden Boot after a pre-season break and record Anfield deal. Klopp is ready to reap the reward of Salah’s much-needed summer holiday after an exhausting end to last season.
Erasing the shadow over Salah’s future, when he extended his contract by another two years on £350,000 a week, is not so easy to measure. At the very least, Klopp admits he was glad to remove the distraction of weekly questions about Salah’s commitment.
“Mo had one of the most intense seasons ever, with the African Cup of Nations and all of our games,” Klopp said. “Everyone talks about us playing 63 games and stuff like this, but we had some players who played a tournament in between as well, which is ridiculous.
“After a few weeks of holiday, Mo is always full of power and energy and he came back in a good shape and, yes, knowing where he will be for the next very, very important years in his career. Yes, that gave all of us a boost and him as well. He looked really sharp in the whole pre-season to be honest.” (© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2022)
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