Joel Matip made the decision to snub Cameroon in order to cement his place at Liverpool and national team boss Hugo Broos is not content with his choice.
Since the beginning of the season, there has been definite improvement as far as Liverpool’s defence is concerned. Through a combination of good coaching and astute transfer signings, Jurgen Klopp has ensured that his defence has slowly but surely stopped leaking goals like a broken tap.
Loris Karius was signed from Mainz for little over four million pounds and while he has been good, the signing of the summer was Joel Matip. Coming in from Schalke on a free transfer, the Cameroonian centre-back has quickly settled into the Premier League.
Matip’s presence at the back is a calming one and his composure on the ball makes life a whole lot easier for Liverpool’s midfielders as he is a constant outlet to calm down play and ensure that possession is retained.
The manner in which Matip has dealt with forwards like Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been stellar. Although, it hasn’t been plain sailing. Against Chelsea, Matip made an ill-considered slide tackle in his own box and had to pull out and the result was a goal scored by Costa.
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“I would say at the moment I will be concentrating on Liverpool,” Matip told the Telegraph back in September. “It is a long time until January so you never know, but that is the idea.”
Matip’s decision to snub his country and play for Liverpool in January is one which has divided opinion. While it’s admirable that he wants to impress the coaches and fans on Merseyside, Cameroonian supporters will feel put out that one of their star players is unwilling to miss a few weeks of the Premier League season to appear for his country. It’s anti-patriotic, as they say.
It suits Liverpool and, as a South African, I don’t mind.
However, Cameroon boss Hugo Broos is of the opinion he can persuade Matip and that he should play in the African Cup of Nations in January.
“When I took over as coach, I went to see him in Gelsenkirchen and ask him to return to the team,” said Broos in an interview in this week’s edition of the Belgian Voetbal Magazine, via KickOff.
“But he said to me ‘nothing is organised properly in Cameroon’. I asked him to give me a chance to prove that we could do it better but he was not convinced.
“But in the meantime, I’ve heard that he is now prepared to make a comeback and so I am going to go and see him again,” said Broos.
While I doubt that much has changed in the last two months in the way of organisation, Broos is obligated to try and convince the best players to feature for Cameroon.
Matip has already made sure that he is one of the first names on the team-sheet and it would seem as though he is not prepared to give Jurgen Klopp any reason not to start him. Liverpool have missed the presence of a composed figure at the back since Daniel Agger left and it would not come as a surprise to see him in the Liverpool back four for many years to come.