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Liverpool teenager Jürgen Klopp handed debut could face national service under Rishi Sunak plan

Jürgen Klopp manager of Liverpool embracing Trey Nyoni of Liverpool at the end of the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield on February 28, 2024 in Liverpool, England.
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)


As a General Election looms in the UK, Rishi Sunak — Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party — has pitched a controversial plan to reintroduce national service. The world of football could feel the impact of any such move, with one Liverpool youngster who was handed his debut under Jürgen Klopp falling within the criteria.

Football has felt the impacts of conscription in the past. Notably, there was much focus on whether Heung-min Son would earn an exemption by winning a trophy with South Korea, with success at the Asian Games eventually shortening his compulsory service from 21 months to just three weeks.

Egypt also has compulsory national service in place, and there was speculation that Mohamed Salah may have to go back and complete this during his Chelsea days. However, the Liverpool star has benefited from an exemption, much to the relief of Klopp and the Reds.

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The finer details of Sunak's plan would be sketched out by a Royal Commission, and certain exemptions could theoretically be carved out. But in principle, it would require all 18-year-olds to complete a year either serving in the military or else volunteering at a community service for one weekend of every month (BBC).

This is now one of the Conservative Party's election pledges, meaning Sunak would be expected to enact the measure if his party commanded a majority in the upcoming July 4 election. The scheme, costed at around $3.2bn (£2.5bn/€2.9bn) per year, would come into effect from September 2025.

Most forecasts predict a landslide Conservative defeat at the election, so teenagers won't be sweating too much just yet. But if the plans did come into force on the proposed timescale, highly-rated Liverpool teenager Trey Nyoni could be among those affected.

Currently 16, Nyoni, who was signed by Liverpool from Leicester City last summer, turns 17 next month. He will therefore be 18 at the proposed starting point, although it's currently unclear whether the scheme would only apply to those turning 18 in the school year commencing in that September.

Nyoni was the youngest player Liverpool used this season, handed his debut by Klopp in a 12-minute cameo against Southampton. He endeared himself to Reds fans by being unable to contain a beaming smile as he was substituted into the action.

Some of Liverpool's other standout youngsters would definitely avoid the cut-off. Jayden Danns and Lewis Koumas, who featured and scored in that FA Cup game, are both already 18 — meaning that unlike Nyoni and others potentially affected by the national service proposal, they will be able to vote in the upcoming election.

Liverpool.com says: Nyoni needn't be unduly worried. All signs point to a convincing Labour victory come July 4, meaning this policy is highly unlikely to see the light of day. Even if it did, Sunak would surely allow for certain exemptions, with interrupting the careers of promising English footballers not in anybody's best interests.