Joel Matip cleared for Liverpool action as FIFA rule over eligibility dispute

20 January 2017

Joel Matip is able to return to action for Liverpool, after FIFA opted against investigating Cameroon’s claims over his eligibility.


Matip withdrew himself from the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, with Liverpool believing the centre-back had retired from international duty.

With the FECAFOOT claiming Matip had never issued his retirement in writing, they feel he should have reported for this month’s tournament in Gabon.

This saw Jurgen Klopp leave Matip out for both Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United and Wednesday night’s 1-0 win away to Plymouth Argyle in their FA Cup third-round replay.

But the 25-year-old is now likely to return for Saturday’s clash with Swansea City at Anfield, after FIFA ruled in his favour.

Whether he starts against the Swans remains to be seen, with FIFA’s confirmation coming after Klopp oversaw training at Melwood on Friday evening, likely planning without him.

However, his availability boosts Klopp’s options considerably, with Matip one of Liverpool’s standout players this season so far.

The Reds are still yet to lose when Matip has played, with his defensive nous and composure providing a welcome platform to build from the back, improving those around him, too.

Ragnar Klavan had filled in while he was absent, initially through injury, and performed reasonably, but is now likely to drop out.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Nathaniel Clyne and Jordan Henderson both returning to training on Friday, Klopp is able to call upon a near full-strength squad at a crucial stage of the season.

Sadio Mane is away with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Marko Grujic (hamstring) and Danny Ings (knee) remain sidelined, but Liverpool are lifted by the fitness of Philippe Coutinho.

Matip’s clearance comes at a hugely positive juncture for the club, following Steven Gerrard’s appointment as academy coach, but it still serves to highlight an ineptitude at the top level.

That Matip was left to sit out against both United and Argyle is unacceptable, while Cameroon’s decision to contest the defender’s eligibility despite his wish to not take part was ill-judged.

But for the No. 32, he can now look to re-establish himself in Klopp’s starting lineup and help push Liverpool towards the Premier League title.

The Reds play four games at Anfield in the next 10 days, with each a must-win fixture either in the Premier League, League Cup or the FA Cup, and Matip can now hope to prove influential in this run.

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