Most of the time it’s pretty awesome having two of the best African footballers play on your team, but other times it is not. In this case, both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have been shortlisted for the CAF Player of the Year award. The ceremony, which will take place in Ghana, happens to be scheduled for the night before Liverpool’s FA cup tie against the hometown rivals, Everton.
Naturally, both players are eager to attend the ceremony, though Salah is heavily favored to take home the prize this year. The Liverpool ECHO is reporting that Klopp has given them both leave to make the 7,000 mile round trip for the January 4th event, with the intention of getting them back in time to be in contention to take on Everton on January 5th.
The pair will fly into and out of Accra, Ghana on a private plane. The flight, which should be about seven hours, will see them touch down in Merseyside on the morning of the match.
The other player to get nominated, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will be in the middle of the Bundesliga’s winter break and so this timing won’t concern him. The Premier League, on the other hand, doesn’t give its players time off in the winter, deciding instead to go the other route of making them play two games per week all the way through.
But since we can’t change the rules (nor would I, because I am, at heart, a profoundly selfish person, and I love the festive period), Klopp is right to allow Salah and Mané the chance to enjoy this celebration of their hardwork. Liverpool being without the two players, even for an FA Cup derby, is worth the goodwill earned by allowing them to go.