Joel Matip's Cameroon rejection is good for Liverpool, admits Jürgen Klopp

Joel Matip's Cameroon rejection is good for Liverpool, admits Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says that the decision of centre-back Joel Matip to turn down the chance to play for Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations next month is "good" for his side.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is pleased by Joel Matip's decision to snub the chance to represent Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations next month.

The centre-back has exiled himself from international duty for the Indomitable Lions, with their manager Hugo Broos recently in contact with Matip to convince him to change his mind.

But the Reds' summer signing has not altered his attitude, rejecting the opportunity to turn out at the tournament in Gabon which runs from January 14 to February 5.

Sadio Mane will fly out to represent Senegal, meaning he will miss potentially crucial league clashes with Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as their EFL Cup semi-final second-leg against former club Southampton.

Matip is already a pivotal part of Klopp's starting eleven, despite only joining from Schalke on a free transfer in July, with the manager admitting his decision will prove highly beneficial.

Matip's decision is "good for us", declares Klopp

Speaking ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with West Ham United at Anfield, Klopp said: "We had this talk a few weeks ago, so I am not surprised."

The manager insisted that the players "have to make these decisions by themselves" and that there is "nothing the club can do" to influence them.

He suggested that Matip's situation - having not played for his country since 2015 - is "different" and that his self-imposed exile maybe "because he has grown up in Germany", admitting his refusal to play is "good for us."

The statistics show that Liverpool's games without Matip, who will return to the team from an ankle injury against West Ham on Sunday, have seen nine goals leaked in just three league games.

With Matip starting, Klopp's charges have conceded nine goals in 11 and haven't lost a single game, indicating his immediate importance to the spine of the team.

The German manager admitted: "Obviously, he has had a good influence. He is a good player and adapted soon to what we need."

Reds boss: Matip's absence not why we lost last week

Klopp said that it is "not fair" to suggest last weekend's defeat at Bournemouth, in which Liverpool lost 4-3 having been 3-1 ahead with 15 minutes to go, was down to the absence of Matip.

He did however acknowledge that the centre-halves on that afternoon [Dejan Lovren and Lucas Leiva] were "not perfect around the goals" as he explained that it is "pretty likely most of the time" that "when you concede goals, the centre-halves are around and could have done better."

Klopp referred to the other game Liverpool have lost this season, away at Burnley in August, insisting that they "should have defended the goals much earlier than in the centre-half region" - admitting they "made similar mistakes again" in their loss to the Cherries and "again a team used it."

Despite accepting his importance, Klopp added: "Joel is a wonderful player, but Lucas, Dejan, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez in the future are really good football players and will do a wonderful job for Liverpool."