Liverpool: Manager Jurgen Klopp explains politically influenced Xherdan Shaqiri decision & player reaction

Xherdan Shaqiri- Jurgen Klopp keen to avoid off-field drama in Belgrade and may leave Xherdan Shaqiri behind in Liverpool

Xherdan Shaqiri played starring role during Liverpool's defeat of Red Star Belgrade last month Credit Action Images

Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, whose 1.8 million people are mostly ethnic Albanians, which broke away 10 years ago.

Shaqiri sparked controversy at the World Cup by scoring a late victor against Serbia and making a "double-headed eagle" gesture, in reference to the symbol on the flag of Albania.

"I have heard so many wonderful things about the city of Belgrade, and the country of Serbia as a whole, from friends and colleagues who've visited before, so now I'm really looking forward to taking Liverpool there for a great game of Champions League football".

Xherdan Shaqiri will miss the clash as Klopp anticipates he is likely to receive a bad reception due to political reasons.

Politics will keep Liverpool forward Xherdan Shaqiri from making the trip to face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League, almost five months after the Switzerland forward made a nationalist hand gesture while celebrating his winning goal against Serbia at the World Cup in June.

"But we are not here for that, we are here to play football".

As for the team news, Liverpool welcome Naby Keita and Dejan Lovren back and they travelled with the squad.

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That symbol was in reference to ethnic Albanians and Shaqiri was fined by Federation Internationale de Football Association, along with Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner, for making the gesture.

Xhredan Shaqiri has also remained in England as the German admitted that he did not want to take the Switzerland global winger due to political reasons.

"We came here as a football team, representing one of the biggest clubs in the world".

Red Star Belgrade are without a win in their past five games in European competition (D3 L2), conceding 10 goals in losing the past two (1-6 v Paris St-Germain and 0-4 v Liverpool).

Liverpool thumped Red Star 4-0 on October 24 at Anfield in their last Champions League game on goals from forwards Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

"Maybe if Shaq would have played they (the crowd) go for him or whatever, I don't know, but I didn't think that far", Klopp added.

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