Joel Matip‘s decision to opt out of Cameroon duty for the Africa Cup of Nations in January has proved a welcome one for Jurgen Klopp.
Matip held talks with Cameroon manager Hugo Broos over potentially ending his self-imposed exile from international duty, but chose not to do so, instead focussing on his new club.
This is a significant boost to Liverpool, with Matip proving a hugely influential player since his arrival on a free transfer in the summer.
Discussing the former Schalke centre-back’s commitment to club over country at Melwood on Friday afternoon, Klopp said it was a decision that hugely benefited Liverpool.
“We had this talk a few weeks ago, so I was not surprised. Of course, I’m happy about this,” he said.
“The player has to make this decision himself, it’s not for the club.
“For Joel it’s different, he grew up in Germany. So he decided for himself, and it’s good for us.”
Matip has helped Liverpool keep three of their four clean sheets this season so far, while his presence in the side in the Premier League has seen just nine goals conceded in 11 games.
Meanwhile, the Reds let in nine goals in just three league outings without him, underlining his influence.
However, while Klopp praised Matip as “a good player,” who had “obviously adapted pretty soon,” he reserved praise “for Lucas [Leiva], for Dejan [Lovren], for Ragnar [Klavan] and for Joe Gomez in the future.”
Matip’s availability throughout a busy period in January is an undoubted lift for the club, however.
Klopp will be without Sadio Mane during the AFCON, with the Senegalese winger set to miss the clashes with Manchester United, Swansea City, Chelsea and Hull City in the league.
The £30 million summer arrival will also be absent for Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final second leg at home to his former club Southampton, as well as a possible FA Cup fourth round tie.
Matip has successfully recovered from an ankle injury, and is set to reclaim his starting role for Sunday’s clash with West Ham United.