Jurgen Klopp has been facing a headache with regard to his Champions League squad, but Stefan Bajcetic could help solve it.
Liverpool will take on Group F winners, and current holders, Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Klopp named a 24-man squad for the competition’s group stage but will be required to submit a revised list to UEFA by 11pm on February 2 for the knockout stages.
UEFA rules state that a squad must include a maximum of 17 non-homegrown players, with a minimum of eight locally trained players of which at least four must be club-trained.
Klopp’s initial squad aligned with these rules. It comprised of three club-trained players, four association-trained players and a further 17 non-homegrown squad members.
However, the January signing of Cody Gakpo, another non-homegrown player, along with Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return from injury, have created a Champions League headache for the Liverpool boss.
Klopp will have to make changes to his squad if he wants to register all three players, as expected.
Bajcetic the answer?
The decision over which non-homegrown player will be removed from the Champions League squad has been made easier by Bajcetic’s emergence, with the player qualifying for List B.
Indeed Champions League clubs can register an unlimited number of List B players to the squad no later than 11pm on the day before a match.
To be eligible for List B, UEFA claims that a player must have been “born on, or after, January 1, 2000, and have been eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since their 15th birthday.”
Bajcetic, who joined Liverpool from Celta Vigo in December 2020, had not been at Liverpool long enough to qualify for List B when it came to the group stage.
However the 18-year-old has now been with the club for over two years, so qualifies.
In turn, he can therefore be removed from the Champions League squad and re-registered through List B, which would free up a space for one of Gakpo, Keita or Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Liverpool’s two-legged tie against Madrid will take place at Anfield on February 21 and then at the Bernabeu three weeks later, on March 15, with a place in the quarter-final up for grabs.