Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool have done nothing wrong in dispute over Matip, insists furious Klopp

Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool, FA Cup Third Round Replay: Home Park, Tonight, 7.45pm

By Andy Hampson

Liverpool remain frustrated in their hopes of gaining greater clarity over the availability of Joel Matip.

Manager Jurgen Klopp was forced to pull the defender out of Sunday's game at Manchester United because of a dispute with Cameroon over his international status that also looks set to rule him out of this evening's FA Cup third round replay with Plymouth Argyle.

Matip was named in Cameroon's squad for the ongoing African Nations Cup in Gabon despite it being widely understood that he had retired from international football.

The Cameroonian Football Federation had a right to do this under Fifa rules and, with the player having not reported for duty, he could consequently be suspended from club football for the duration of the tournament.

The situation has surprised Liverpool because the club understood the 25-year-old's decision to retire - he has not represented Cameroon since September 2015 - had been respected.

Liverpool have since called on Fifa to step in but so far the world governing body have only highlighted their regulations.

Klopp resents the suggestion the club or Matip himself have wilfully gone against Cameroon's wishes. According to Klopp, Fifa have said they are considering whether to investigate but he is adamant the club have done nothing wrong.

"There are not a lot of times in my life when I have been in a situation like this, not even a similar situation," he explained.

"I don't want to blame anybody but I think our supporters deserve to know about the process we are in.

"In this moment, we are sure we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong. He didn't play for Cameroon since 2015. Since he has been here he has not been a Cameroon national player.

"In this moment he is not in the squad of Cameroon, so he cannot play for them, but in this moment we have not got a 100 per cent guarantee he could play for us. That is the situation."

Matip, signed from Schalke last summer, recently recovered from an ankle injury and Klopp was keen to get him back into action but he expects not to be able to play him at Home Park.

He said: "I would consider lining him up but I don't know if I can. From the sports side it would make sense, but I am not sure if I can."

Regarding contact with Fifa, he added: "Fifa told us that this Friday they will decide if they will open a case on it or not.

"I accept rules in life but I think they should always be based on human senses. For me, not a lawyer or a legal person, it is pretty difficult.

"If he had not been injured - but he was - then he couldn't have played from January 2. If Fifa open a case - and I don't think they will because we are sure everything is all right - then it would be 7-10 days until we get a decision."

When asked how Matip had responded, Klopp revealed that the player was deeply unhappy.

"He isn't happy. I told him before the United game that I can't pick him," he added. "We are not the only club. Schalke have a similar problem and so do West Brom, maybe Ajax too.

"It is important and we have to wait for a fit player who wasn't playing for Cameroon for 15-16 months. It is difficult to accept."

Belfast Telegraph


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