Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp backs Thomas Tuchel call for return of five substitutions in Premier League

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has supported Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel in the call for the Premier League to re-introduce five substitutions this season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After the league restarted in June 2020 after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic, clubs were permitted to use five substitutions but the number was reverted back to three last season.

– Ogden: Focus turns to convincing vaccine-hesitant players
Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access

However, Tuchel insisted the league must reconsider the rule after the Omicron variant impacted several clubs and seen 15 matches postponed this month.

Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash against Leeds United was also called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Elland Road club and Klopp agreed with the Tuchel over the need for more substitutions.

When asked at a news conference on Monday if he would be in favour of the five substitutions, Klopp replied: “Yes, we have to put competition aside. Yes, [Manchester] City have better subs than Southampton and we have better subs than Burnley and yes that’s probably true.

“The problem is the intensity for a top class footballer in England is definitely at the edge. A top class player in England plays about 38 Premier League games, two cup competitions so maybe 43 [games in total]. International games because pretty much all of them play for their national teams so that could be up to 10 games plus Champions League games and the further you go, the more games it is.

“So, pretty quickly, we’ve reached an area of more than 50 games or higher. If I’m right, the first season I had here, we played the final in the 64th game so there are some key players who only are out when they’re injured. The decision in the managers’ meeting is made by 14 clubs as you need 14 votes to change it and there’s something wrong [with that].

“As an example, Burnley, and I’m not sure how many of their players play international football when our players have three games and they have no game. We’re talking about an issue that some clubs and players definitely have but it’s decided by other teams. Because we make a competition of it, they say no. That’s a real problem. [Five subs] is the right decision especially in this moment because you bring players back after COVID infection or after an injury and then they have to play immediately.

“This wonderful game where usually the player is in good shape, well trained, recover well and go for it. If we don’t do that, it’s much more difficult. The best and the most intense league in the world is the only league in Europe with still three subs and that’s not right.

“We should change it but it’s up to the Premier League to make this decision by themselves but they can’t because you need the votes from other clubs so I don’t see a real chance to change it.”

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers also labelled the Premier League schedule as “ridiculous” ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.

It was also confirmed on Monday that a record 103 positive COVID-19 cases were found among players and staff in the Premier League over the past week.

The figure has steadily increased in recent weeks with 42 cases between Dec. 6-12 and 90 testing positive between Dec. 13-19.

Klopp also confirmed that Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Thiago will be available for the match.

Liverpool are level on points with third-placed Chelsea and six behind league leaders City with a game in hand.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.