Jürgen Klopp admits Africa Cup of Nations change is "fantastic" news for Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has praised the decision to move Africa Cup of Nations from January to the summer from 2019 onwards.

The biennial tournament has been held in the first two months of the New Year since 1996, but will be moved to June and July from its next edition in Cameroon in two years' time, also being extended to 24 teams from its usual 16.

The Reds were hit hard when Sadio Mané left Merseyside to represent Senegal at the tournament earlier this year, failing to win a league game in January without the winger as their Premier League title prospects quickly faded.

Meanwhile centre-back Joël Matip was unavailable for over a month due to a dispute with the Cameroon FA, who took the matter to FIFA until it was eventually cleared in mid-January.

Liverpool have even since signed Egyptian international Mohamed Salah from AS Roma for a club-record fee, another player who will take part in AFCON, while top summer target Naby Keïta from RB Leipzig is from Guinea and would too be involved.

With Matip and Mané having established themselves as key players for the Merseyside outfit and Salah having indicated in pre-season that he will follow suit, the change in scheduling will ensure less headaches for Liverpool in future.

Reds boss pleased to see AFCON become summer tournament

Asked for his response on the change, Klopp welcomed the rearranged tournament.

"Yes, fantastic," he told reporters when previewing Liverpool's Premier League Asia Trophy clash with Leicester City in Hong Kong.

He admitted: "When we signed Mo Salah we were already thinking 'oh my god, we'll lose both [him and Mané] in one-and-a-half years in the winter'."

But the German said "that obviously will not happen now" and called it "very good" that they will have "two more players in winter in 2018-19."

Liverpool missed Mané sorely last season, while other untimely injuries and absences also took their toll, at a time when it appeared they could maintain a title challenge.

Klopp will hope that he can arrest the club's defensive problems and also replicate the attacking form they showed in the autumn of last season, in which they consistently blew teams away.

Without Mané they found it harder to break down defensive teams and had to adapt their tactics to consolidate a top-four finish towards the end of the season.

Salah's arrival will only help to ease the burden on his fellow African and with both wide-men available for the entire 2017-18 season, Klopp will undoubtedly be planning another Liverpool assault on the table's top positions.