Xherdan Shaqiri left at home as Liverpool prepare for Champions League visit to Red Star Belgrade after enraging Serbians with celebration at the World Cup
- Liverpool are set to play Red Star Belgrade in Champions League on Tuesday
- Xherdan Shaqiri left on Merseyside to avoid hostility in Serbian capital Belgrade
- Swiss midfielder enraged Serbs by making eagle gesture during World Cup
- The eagle is a symbol of ethnic Albanians, while his boot also had Kosovo flag
Jurgen Klopp has left Xherdan Shaqiri on Merseyside rather than subject the midfielder to a barrage of hostility in Belgrade.
The Swiss midfielder enraged Serbians during the World Cup for what they regarded as an inflammatory celebration following a goal during a game between the two sides while he also wore boots adorned with the Kosovo flag.
It would, inevitably, have made him a target during Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Red Star Belgrade.
Xherdan Shaqiri has been left on Merseyside as Liverpool prepare to face Red Star Belgrade
Shaqiri enraged Serbians by celebrating a goal for Switzerland by making the eagle gesture, a symbol of ethnic Albanians
Jurgen Klopp decided to leave Shaqiri at home to avoid a hostile reception out in Belgrade
Klopp said: ‘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.’
Shaqiri wanted to play the match in the Serbian capital but did not make the actual decision
Liverpool can take a step closer to the Champions League knockout stages with another win
Premier League unless stated
Tuesday Red Star Belgrade (A)
Champions League group stage
Sunday Fulham (H)
November 24 Watford (A)
November 28 Paris Saint-Germain (A)
Champions League group stage
December 2 Everton (H)
December 5 Burnley (A)
Shaqiri’s every touch was booed by Red Star supporters during the first meeting between the sides at Anfield two weeks ago and the hostility would be ramped up even further towards a player who was born in the former Yugoslavia to Kosovan-Albanian parents.
Shaqiri said of the matter last month: ‘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. I had this (booing) already at the World Cup so I know I can handle this no problem.’
Another three points would put them within touching distance of the knockout stages, following the draw between Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli on Match Day three.
There will be other decisions to make about who travels to Belgrade but one man who will not be involved is Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
He is due to return to full training at Melwood following a hamstring issue but does not yet have match sharpness.
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