Klopp Considering Dropping Shaqiri From Belgrade Visit

Shaqiri I'm a Champions League winner I deserve respect at Liverpool

Liverpool ace Shaqiri: Forget Stoke relegation - I'm a Champions League winner

Jürgen Klopp is considering leaving Xherdan Shaqiri out of the Liverpool squad for the Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade amid concern that his presence could provoke hostility against his side.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia refuses to recognise it as a state and relations between the two countries have been tense.

The big omission from the Reds' travelling party was forward Xherdan Shaqiri after Klopp chose to leave the Swiss star at home.

Red Star Belgrade coach Vladan Milojevic believes his team are playing for the pride of Serbia as defeat on Tuesday - coupled with a win for Napoli against Paris Saint-Germain - would eliminate them from the competition.

Explaining Shaqiri's non-inclusion in the squad, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: "It's a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football".

"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", the Reds' boss added.

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Shaqiri was famously involved in controversy during the World Cup after he celebrated scoring for Switzerland against Serbia by making a double-headed eagle gesture, which symbolises the Albanian flag.

Paul Merson has named Liverpool FC star Xherdan Shaqiri as the signing of the season so far.

"[He] understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday".

Moreover, Klopp said his club has "no political message" and is exclusively concerned with football. "We didn't want a story beside a football story and that's why we decided".

Liverpool will be treat to an infamously toxic atmosphere in Belgrade on Tuesday. I realised already tonight [that] - I expected it differently - mostly the English-speaking journalists were asking about it, to be honest.

Midfield: Naby Keita is back in contention after recovering from a hamstring injury that's kept him out of the last five games in all competitions and the Guinea worldwide could be recalled in midfield if Klopp feels he's fully match fit. These games are always tough to start off with and Red Star will give Liverpool plenty to deal with in the opening stages but once they get over that then they've got the skill to get a couple of goals. He is in a very good shape.

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