In pictures: Liverpool v Leicester
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Liverpool have been handed a major boost ahead of the African Cup of Nations, with a new development potentially meaning Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s departure would be delayed.
If Liverpool stars Salah and Mane could hang around a little longer than anticipated, it would mean they could be available to face Chelsea on January 2.
Jurgen Klopp has already bemoaned the festive period while their match against Leeds United has been postponed.
It means that, according to FIFA regulations, the Reds will be without Salah and Mane until their countries are either out of the tournament or whether they have lifted the trophy.
The rules stipulate that players have to leave for December 27 – 13 days before the competition even kicks off.
But the World Leagues Forum (WLF) has written to FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to say that players will not be allowed to leave until January 3.
The organisation’s general secretary Jerome Perlemuter said that their regulations are “unreasonable and disproportionate” with domestic leagues still ongoing.
That would be a major boost to Liverpool, who have two massive fixtures within that time period to come – including a potential table topper between them and Chelsea on January 2.
This Tuesday, the Reds travel to Leicester which will give Brendan Rodgers the opportunity to exact revenge on their recent Carabao Cup loss.
Keeping Salah and Mane will be integral to Liverpool’s plans against the Foxes and Chelsea.
Their respective countries, Egypt and Senegal, are however expected to go far in the AFCON – which could leave Klopp light in his forward department.
Therefore, it is imperative that the German coach can squeeze as much action out of the dynamic duo prior to them departing.
Naby Keita is the other player set to leave for AFCON, but Liverpool are not the only club set to be hit hard.
Chelsea are set to lose Edouard Mendy for as long as Mane is still in the competition while Arsenal will have Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang and Nicolas Pepe out of action.
But the most affected teams are Crystal Palace and Watford. Palace will be without Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp, Cheikyou Kouyate, Jordan Ayew, while Watford are set to lose Emmanuel Dennis, Imran Louza, Adam Masina, Ismaila Sarr or William Troost-Ekong.
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