Liverpool have made the decision to remove Xherdan Shaqiri from the travelling squad as they jet off to play Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday. The decision was made because of Shaqiri’s Kosovan-Albanian heritage and political issues with Serbia.
Kosovo used to for a Serbian province, and Serbia are yet to recognise it’s independence as its own nation. Shaqiri and Switzerland team-mate Granit Xhaka caused controversy at the World Cup in Russia after making an Albanian nationalist eagle symbol with their hands after scoring against Serbia.
The pair, who are both of Kosovan-Albanian heritage, received a formal warning from FIFA and were fined 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,633) for unsporting behaviour.
Shaqiri has previously said that he could handle any issues, “no problem”, and said that he doesn’t “really care what people are saying. I just go there to play a football game. It is not about politics, it is about football. I worry about nothing and go to play.”
However, manager Jurgen Klopp fears that his concentration may be affected in Belgrade:
“It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football.
“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.
“We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don’t have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.
“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football.
“So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.”
Jordan Henderson will also miss the match as he recovers from a hamstring injury, but Naby Keita and Dejan Lovren both travel.