Friedel claims Klopp's Liverpool can emerge as the Premier League's big World Cup winners

Jurgen Klopp will be the Premier League manager who benefits the most from a mid-season World Cup, according to former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The Reds manager has been a firm opponent of the Qatar 2022 finals being slotted into mid-season, which has happened because the climate in Qatar made it unfeasible to stage the tournament in its usual June-July slot.

Klopp said earlier this season it was taking place "at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons", but his message has changed in recent times, with Klopp optimistic the break from Premier League duty could help Liverpool.

He said his team "will be different" once the domestic season resumes, with Liverpool having six weeks without a game between their November 12 clash with Southampton and the December 26 trip to Aston Villa.

The likes of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota will have time to recover from injuries, and Klopp's squad is not loaded with players who are likely to be first choice for their countries at the World Cup. For the likes of Mohamed Salah, who did not qualify with Egypt, there will be a break from the treadmill of game after game.

To an extent, it will be like a bonus pre-season spell for Klopp and his players, a time to recharge and refocus, with last year's quadruple push having sapped many at Anfield, particularly the late-season anguish of missing out on the Premier League and Champions League titles.

"I think fighting for four trophies and all the games that they had really took its toll," Friedel told Stats Perform.

"They've also had some injuries, they have players that are going to be leaving for the World Cup. And I think for all the clubs in the Premier League, this World Cup break – not really a break – but the World Cup is going to help them the most.

"I think after the World Cup, you're going to see a completely different Liverpool team. But I think just the injury, suspensions and mental fatigue have been the main things."

Former United States shot-stopper Friedel had a three-year spell at Liverpool from 1997 to 2000, and also played in the Premier League for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham.

It was Liverpool who gave him his big break in England, and he has been taken aback to see Klopp's team struggle as badly as they have done this season, despite their 2021-22 exertions.

They face Spurs on Sunday, when Friedel is bound to have split loyalties. After 12 rounds of Premier League games, Liverpool have won four, drawn four and lost four, to sit ninth in the table, after consecutive defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

Liverpool 1-2 Leeds United
Liverpool 1-2 Leeds United

"[I've been] really surprised. But they've got one of the world's best managers, got one of the best squads. They had a lot of games last year, a lot of tired minds, a lot of tired legs, and they've had injuries and suspensions this year," Friedel said.

"I'm not worried about Liverpool at all. They should keep rolling with who they have and how they play. They'll come out of it and they'll be consistent again, and I couldn't say enough nice things about Jurgen Klopp and what he's done for the club."

He holds the belief Liverpool can still finish in the top four, to earn Champions League football next season.

"I think they're going to be there," Friedel said. "There's always a team from the bottom that comes up."

He says the sale of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich and arrival in his place of Darwin Nunez always meant there would be a transition period.

"When big players come and go, that happens all the time at clubs," Friedel said. "I would say [it is having] more of an impact as it's taking a little bit longer for Nunez to have consistent form.

"Losing a player happens. Once Nunez finds his feet, and I know Liverpool also have the ways and means to go out in the transfer market again, they'll get that position right."