Klopp not keen on Salah appearance at Tokyo Olympics

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Mohamed Salah during training. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Klopp not keen on Salah appearance at Tokyo Olympics

  • Egypt’s U23 coach Shawky Gharib has stated his desire to have one of the top three players in the world in his squad for the Tokyo Olympics
  • Liverpool are eager to avoid seeing their pre-season plans ahead of the 2020-21 campaign disrupted by the absence of a key man

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp is not overtly keen on seeing Mohamed Salah at the Tokyo Olympics and would rather the Egyptian super-striker rest-up during the off-season.

But, he is quick to add that so far it is a hypothetical scenario as Liverpool have yet to be put in a position by Egypt where a difficult decision has to be made.

It has been suggested that a talismanic presence at Anfield will be asked to fill a similar role for his country in Tokyo this summer.

Egypt’s U23 coach Shawky Gharib has stated his desire to have “one of the top three players in the world” at his disposal when piecing together a bid for gold medal glory.

Liverpool, though, are eager to avoid seeing their pre-season plans ahead of the 2020-21 campaign disrupted by the absence of a key man.

Were Salah to head off to Asia for more competitive football, then he would need to be eased back into the fold once he returned to Merseyside.

Klopp is hoping that such a situation can be avoided, telling reporters: “Do I want to lose a player in the pre-season? No. Of course not. But we have to consider different things. I will speak with Mo and all that stuff.

“We are completely clear about what we want, but we need more information – how will it look, when will the preparation start, all that stuff, and nobody has really contacted us so far, it’s just in the media."

The Reds boss added: “We have had to play already without Mo but not too often, thank God, but from time to time we have to.

“It’s not about that. All the positive things I could say about Mo I have said in the past.

“But come on, it’s the Olympic Games, I’m still a sports person, the Olympics is the Olympics, but we have to see.

“We will have to see how we deal with it. We can’t really discuss it really because we don’t know anything about it, or not a lot about it."

While Egypt may seek to force the issue when it comes to Salah’s involvement in their plans, Liverpool are expected to stand firm.


Tottenham look to seize on Chelsea’s Premier League slump

Updated 21 February 2020

Tottenham look to seize on Chelsea’s Premier League slump

LONDON: Jose Mourinho had almost reached the end of his lament about the current situation facing his weary Tottenham players when he turned his attention to their next Premier League game against a team he knows so well.

“The Chelsea players were watching this game on TV,” Mourinho said after Tottenham’s 1-0 home loss to Leipzig in the Champions League, “with nice sparkling water, with lemons and biscuits, enjoying the game.”

If only the outlook at Chelsea were so rosy.

Indeed, recent results suggest the predicament of Mourinho’s old club is more concerning than Tottenham’s.

Chelsea, somehow, find themselves still holding onto fourth place in the league heading into Saturday’s London derby against their nearest rivals in the race for Champions League qualification. That’s despite collecting only 15 points from its last 14 games, a dire run stretching back to the end of November.

At that time, Chelsea were on a six-match winning streak — its best since the team’s title-winning season of 2016-17 — and wasn’t too far behind Liverpool, the current runaway leader. Youngsters like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori were regular starters, given their opportunity by an up-and-coming manager in Frank Lampard who is eager to promote youth. US winger Christian Pulisic was in his best form since his move from
Borussia Dortmund.

Fast forward three months and injuries are starting to bite, the kids are starting to feel the pace in a grueling season, and Lampard — a bright, eloquent and engaging manager — has been grumbling about the club’s failure to add numbers to the squad in January and his players’
wastefulness in front of goal.

“I must sound like a broken record,” a clearly frustrated Lampard said after seeing Chelsea get picked off in a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United on Monday.

Lampard’s main gripe is the team’s inability to finish off chances, which has become more pronounced with Abraham — a scorer of 13 league goals this season — currently out injured.

With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic also missing against United, Lampard played a front three of Willian, Michy Batshuayi and Pedro Rodriguez — a throwback to a few years ago and an era Chelsea fans probably thought they’d seen the back of.

Key midfielder N’Golo Kante joined Abraham on the injury list after going off early against United, while Lampard is still playing 38-year-old Willy Caballero in goal after dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga — signed in 2018 as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

It’s an uncertain period for Lampard, who is still a rookie in managerial terms, and Chelsea’s recent slump has seen as many as seven teams move within seven points or closer in the standings.

In that three-month period, Tottenham have won 29 points — a haul second only to Liverpool. That coincided exactly with Mourinho taking over as manager from Mauricio Pochettino.

The issue, now, is whether Spurs can keep it up, and Mourinho clearly has his doubts. With attackers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane out potentially for the rest of the season, Mourinho likened his team to someone “going to fight with a gun without bullets.”

Amid a hectic schedule that has seen his team play two FA Cup replays since the turn of the year, Mourinho said he has been forced to start with the same group of players for matches every three of four days. Erik Lamela and Tanguy Ndombele came off the bench against Leipzig having barely trained.

“I try to manage the pieces that we had,” he said.

Throw in the fact that Tottenham has a tight turnaround after the Leipzig match — Wednesday night to Saturday lunchtime — and Mourinho will feel he has genuine cause for grievance.

Yet, he is managing to scramble together results and a win at Stamford Bridge, where he previously enjoyed two separate trophy-winning spells as coach and was once revered, would see Tottenham climb above Chelsea.

Outmanoeuvring Mourinho, his former coach, in a 2-0 win at Tottenham in December was one of the few bright spots for Lampard in recent months. 

Doing so again would give him and Chelsea some much-needed breathing space in what is suddenly a bunched chase for Champions League qualification.