Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shrugs off Sadio Mane speculation, but concerned over new Paris pitch

By AFP

PARIS: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shrugged off the distraction of speculation over Sadio Mane’s future as he prepared Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid on a fresh pitch at the Stade de France.

Mane, whose contract expires in 2023, has been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich.

The Senegalese told reporters this week he will reveal a “special” answer to questions over where he will play next season after the final.

“This is the wrong moment to speak about that. Wherever Sadio plays next season he will be a big player,” Klopp said when quizzed on whether Mane would be a good addition to the Bundesliga.

“The Bayern Munich rumours I couldn’t care less in the moment. Sadio is fully focused on the game, no concerns.

“It’s not the first time in my life before a big game Bayern Munich rumours come up.”

That was a reference to the 2013 Champions League final when Mario Goetze lined up for Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 defeat to Bayern despite having already agreed to join the Bavarians the following season.

Klopp also suffered defeat in his second European Cup final when Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in Kyiv in 2018.

But the Reds bounced back the following year to beat Tottenham in Madrid and lift the trophy for a sixth time.

A highly-anticipated rematch between two of the most decorated clubs in Champions League history will take place on a pitch laid just this week.

Klopp expressed his concern with the signs of where each section of the new turf has been installed still clearly visible.

“Usually when a pitch looks new it’s good news. This pitch is new since yesterday, that’s obviously not the best news but for both teams,” he added.

“That somebody thought it was a good idea to bring the pitch to the stadium the day before the game is an interesting idea.

“It didn’t kill my mood by one percent. As long as both teams have the same circumstances I’m fine with it.”

‘Exceptional’ season

Liverpool are looking to complete a treble in Paris having already won the League Cup and FA Cup.

Klopp’s men fell just short of an unprecedented quadruple as they missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City by a point.

But he acknowledged his side’s season will be judged on whether they win or lose in the French capital.

“If you are a football person you know what my boys did so far this season was exceptional,” said Klopp.

“But we all know you are judged by the colour of the medal after a game. I’m more than happy and proud of what we did so far, it’s really special.

“I will feel better if we win the game and that’s all that I am concerned about.”

Paris was only chosen as the venue for the final in February after Saint Petersburg was stripped of hosting duties due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“That the game still happens and is not in Saint Petersburg is maybe exactly the right message that Russia should get,” said Klopp.

“Life goes on even when you try to destroy it.

“We play this final not only but also for all the people in Ukraine. I’m pretty sure there are some who can watch it and we do it for you 100 percent.”

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