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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 ever.
Following PFA chief Maheta Molango’s warning to Telegraph Sport that top players’ careers will be curtailed by the excessive workload of the international calendar, 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’.
His views were echoed by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who claimed the minds of some of his players are already on their international ambitions more than the start of the Premier League season.
For Klopp, the main problem is the demands put on players.
“If all the players have a break it is not a problem. It is good,” 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 okay. 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’.
“It is like climate change. We all know something has to change but nobody is saying what we have to do. 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. It didn’t happen yet because the managers are in the jump seat, in out, in, out, why should we be concerned about the long-term effects? This World Cup happens at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons.”
Tuchel agrees such an event can never be held in mid-season again.
“Hopefully not,” he said. “It does not make so much sense. You feel it. The players are very focused on this World Cup already, which is a good thing because they come in shape and take care of themselves.
“It is also a bad thing. They are focused on the World Cup and not here. A part of them, I have a feeling, is already thinking about November.
“We will see how it influences the players and the performances in October when it gets closer, then it will be for me a huge impact emotionally and physically on the guys that go to the World Cup.
“They will come back drained physically, but also mentally, with big success, big emotions, positive or huge disappointment, you never know. Then, right away, four or five days later, we have Boxing Day.
“Nobody did it before. We feel it already and the talks with the players, the excitement, which is normal and a good thing. We try to turn it around and use it for us but I am a bit uncertain of all this.”
Like other Premier League clubs, Liverpool will schedule a winter camp in order to prepare for the league resumption on Boxing Day. Klopp’s side will head to Dubai in December.
Meanwhile, Klopp says it is unlikely defender Nat Phillips will be allowed to leave Liverpool in this window due to a muscle injury sustained by Ibrahima Konate.
Fulham and Bournemouth are interested in the £10 million rated Phillips.
“Probably. (Konate’s injury) will influence the outgoing transfers, I would say,” said Klopp.