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Joel Matip has turned down another Cameroon call-up with focus on Liverpool

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Joel Matip has turned down another call-up to the Cameroon national team, having retired in 2016, with the centre-back only focused on club matters with Liverpool.

Matip decided to retire from Cameroon duty before his switch from Schalke to Liverpool, but red tape saw him included in their squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

The centre-back, born in Germany, had not formally notified the Cameroonian Football Federation of his retirement, which led to him missing two games for the Reds midway through his first season.

Back then, Matip explained that he wished to “concentrate on Liverpool,” though it is regularly cited that his bad experience with the national team setup informed his decision.

Though injuries have hampered his progress at Anfield, the 30-year-old is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League when fit, and would be a star player for Cameroon.

It is no surprise, then, that manager Toni Conceicao – who has been in charge since 2019 – sought to recall Matip upon his appointment, to no avail.

“The situation of Matip is not new,” he explained ahead of Cameroon’s World Cup qualifiers against Malawi and the Ivory Coast.

“There are players who wanted to come back to the national team. For me there is no need to enlist a player who is not ready to return.

“Matip does not want to return to the national team, that is the issue.”

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Given his experience within the Cameroon setup and his fitness problems at club level, it is sensible for Matip to opt out of an international return to prolong his career.

It is similar to James Milner, who also retired in 2016, with the midfielder still playing at the top level in the Premier League and Champions League as he nears his 36th birthday.

For Liverpool, the prospect of Matip joining the Cameroon squad and subsequently picking up an injury would be costly, as would losing him for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

In fact, this upcoming international break could be a positive one for the Reds on the whole, with many of their key players likely to miss out for various reasons.

Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are all expected to miss out as Premier League clubs have agreed not to release players who would be travelling to red-list countries.

With no exemptions in place, players would then be required to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to the UK.


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