Liverpool said midfielder Naby Keita was “safe and well” after he and his Guinea teammates were blocked in their home country by an apparent military coup.
Keita, 26, was on international duty for a 2022 World Cup qualifier in his homeland when a group of soldiers overthrew Guinean President Alpha Conde and dissolved the country’s existing government.
After hours of gunfire and unrest, Guinea’s World Cup qualifier against Morocco on Monday was postponed.
A Liverpool spokesman said the club was in “constant contact” with Keita and had had “regular communication” with the management of his national team.
“We are satisfied that he is safe and well cared for.” The spokesman told Britain’s PA news agency.
Liverpool said they were talking with “relevant authorities,” that included Guinea team officials, regarding Keita. And they were working to get him “back to Liverpool in a timely and secure manner.”
Guinea defender Issiaga Sylla, who plays for Toulouse, told French newspaper L’Equipe that the players learned something was happening as they gathered for breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning.
“The coach then came to see us to tell us that there was a coup.” Sylla told L’Equipe. “Soldiers were called in to secure our hotel.”
The team hotel was around 10 minutes from the airport. “But we can’t move.” Sylla said.
Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow was trying to make plans for their forward Francois Kamano to return to Russia. But he hadn’t been able to fly him out. He was at his home and communicating with club staff.
“Due to the difficult political situation in Guinea at the current moment all routes are blocked in and out of the country where our player is located.” Lokomotiv said in a statement.
Morocco’s squad were able to fly out of Guinea on Sunday after intervention by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. Defender Nayef Aguerd said the king also organised for extra security at the Moroccan hotel during those anxious hours on Sunday.
Although Fifa and the Confederation of African Football said they were closely monitoring the situation, it was unclear how it might be able to help to get Guinea players back to their clubs.
Fifa has yet to announce a new date or venue for the Guinea-Morocco qualifier.
Keïta could possibly miss the Leeds game next Sunday, though that is surely the least of everyone’s concerns right now.