Jurgen Klopp lets Xherdan Shaqiri out of Serbia trip over fears for his safety
JURGEN KLOPP left Xherdan Shaqiri at home for Tuesday’s conflict with Red Star Belgrade in the wake of dreading for the player’s safety .
The Liverpool manager admitted that politics play a part in football and club authorities dreaded the player could be attacked by Red Star Belgrade’s notorious fans in the Serbian capital.
Klopp is still expecting an intimidating atmosphere in the Serbian capital but the situation will be a hell of a lot easier without Shaqiri, who has begun to awe after his mid year move from Stoke.
Shaqiri, 27, was born in the former Yugosloavian city of Gjilan which is now part of Kosovo, whose freedom has not been perceived by Serbia.
The midfielder ended up in heated water amid the World Cup by wearing boots with the Kosovo hail on one boot and the Swiss one on the other.
He was born to Kosovan-Albanian parents and celebrated Switzerland’s last-minute winner against Serbia at the competition in Russia with a ‘eagle’ motion.
It celebrates the Albanian flag and he was fined, along with Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner, for unsporting conduct.
After the 4-0 win over Red Star which ensured Liverpool currently top their group, Shaqiri – who was scoffed by visiting fans amid the amusement – asserted he had « no worries » about playing in Belgrade.
But Klopp said: “We have to cool the situation down.We are in Serbia and we respect them 100 percent.
« Politics always has an influence on life, certainly on the planet I live. We are not here for that – we are here to play football. We must be centered around football.
« Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a considerable measure of times, however not on Tuesday. »
Victory will certainly put Liverpool in a strong position regarding qualifying but equally, the Serbs are strong at home – and drew 0-0 with Napoli here on matchday one.
Regarding the other squad news, Klopp added: « We will take practically everybody. Clyney (Nathaniel Clyne) is sick and won’t be included, however Dejan (Lovren) and Naby (Keita) are back in the travelling squad.
Defender Andy Robertson said: “I am expecting another special atmosphere. We have seen recordings of how the fans demonstration here and it is unique stadium however we have experience and we have to focus on the game.
“We have a chance for a big three points. If we win we will be best of the gathering going into the last two games. »
Liverpool (likely) 4-3-3: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Lallana, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Red Star (likely) 4-2-3-1: Borjan, Stojkovic, Babic, Degenek, Gobeljic, Krsticic, Jovicic, Srnic, Ebecilio, Ben Nabouhane, Boakye.