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.


Fati delights, Jovic disappoints, optimism for Atletico

Updated 30 September 2020

Fati delights, Jovic disappoints, optimism for Atletico

  • Atletico scored 19 fewer goals than champions Real Madrid last season and 35 fewer than Barcelona

MADRID: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will all be hoping to build on their first wins of the season as La Liga heads into its fourth round of games this week.

Here are the five talking points ahead of the midweek fixtures.

For the first time in a long time, Barcelona can enjoy some calm after a 4-0 win over Villarreal in their first match of the season on Sunday.

Lionel Messi scored on his first competitive appearance since attempting to leave in the summer but most exciting was the performance of the 17-year-old Ansu Fati, who scored twice and won a penalty.

Ronald Koeman must decide how to make the most of the teenager, whose maturity on the pitch belies his age and whose body might not be ready to start every week.

But Fati's pace, movement and decision-making are all so impressive it will be difficult to leave him out, as Barca look to build on that win at Celta Vigo on Thursday.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane switched to a 4-4-2 formation during his team's 3-2 win at Real Betis on Saturday as Luka Jovic was deployed up front alongside Karim Benzema.

But the Serbian striker failed to take his chance, instead enduring another underwhelming night before going off with 18 minutes to go.

It remains to be seen whether Zidane persists with Jovic at home to Real Valladolid on Wednesday, or at all, given Madrid could yet decide to let their €60 million (today $70 million) signing leave before the end of the transfer window.

When Eden Hazard regains fitness, that spot next to Benzema will belong to the Belgian so Jovic's window of opportunity may be small. Time would appear to be running out.

Atletico scored 19 fewer goals than champions Real Madrid last season and 35 fewer than Barcelona.

So hitting six against Granada on Sunday offered some early encouragement that this season's Atletico, boosted by the arrival of Luis Suarez in attack, can put those scoring problems behind them.

Suarez stole the show after scoring twice on his debut but Joao Felix was arguably the biggest plus for Diego Simeone, who will hope the 20-year-old's excellent display is the start of a more consistent campaign.

Atletico go up against newly promoted Huesca on Wednesday, the kind of game they slipped up in too often last season.

Even defeat by Real Madrid could not knock Real Betis off the top of the table, as Manuel Pellegrini's team enjoy the benefits of a strong start and more games played than the traditional powerhouses three weeks into the season.

But there is cause for optimism longer-term as Betis began with wins against Alaves and Real Valladolid, before matching Madrid for prolonged spells until their opponents pulled away in the second half.

With the likes of Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales and Joaquin, this Betis squad has not lacked for attacking talent but solidity at the back has too often been an afterthought.

Villarreal face Alaves on Wednesday, with pressure already on both coaches. Villarreal have four points from their opening three games but a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Barcelona on Sunday, as well as a draw at home to newly-promoted Huesca means Unai Emery could do with a victory.

Alaves, meanwhile, are second bottom after managing just a point from their first three games, with Pablo Machin seeking a first win at la Ceramica.

Valencia have also made a stuttering start, a draw at home to Huesca on Saturday coming on the back of a surprise loss away at Celta Vigo.

New coach Javi Gracia has already expressed disappointment with the club's summer transfer dealings, meaning credit with the board may be lacking if results do not improve.