Liverpool have decided to leave Xherdan Shaqiri out of their squad for Tuesday’s away clash with Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
There had been some debate over whether Switzerland international Shaqiri, who is of Kosovan-Albanian heritage, would form part of the travelling party, but Liverpool have now opted to leave him on Merseyside.
Shaqiri’s presence in Belgrade could have riled the home supporters, as Serbia do not recognise Kosovo’s independence.
The former Stoke player also has previous with Serbian supporters, as he and Switzerland team-mate Granit Xhaka caused controversy during this summer’s World Cup as they celebrated their goals against Serbia by making an Albanian nationalist eagle symbol with their hands.
Shaqiri received a formal warning and fine from FIFA for those actions and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed they will keep him out of the firing line on Tuesday, as he wants everyone’s focus to be on footballing matters.
“It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football,” Klopp said in a Liverpool club statement. “We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all.”
Jordan Henderson will also miss Tuesday’s game as he continues his recovery from a hamstring issue, but Klopp has confirmed that Naby Keita and Dejan Lovren will travel following their own fitness problems.
“We will take pretty much everyone. Clyney is ill and will not be involved, but Dejan and Naby are back in the travelling squad,” Klopp added. “Hendo was close, but not close enough.”