Sadio Mane and Joel Matip could be heading to the African Cup of Nations next month and could be away until early February.
It would seem as though every week news emerges that Liverpool will lose an important player to injury, suspension or international duty. First, it was Danny Ings, then Philippe Coutinho and we’ve known from the off that Sadio Mane was leaving for the AFCON in January, but what we didn’t know was that Joel Matip could head to Gabon next month too.
Mane will join Senegal’s squad early next month, with his first game scheduled for the 15th of January. As can be expected, he will need to join up with his compatriots at least a week before the tournament actually starts.
Although it was always clear that Mane would be unavailable in January, there are fears that Joel Matip could be absent as well which would mean, if either Cameroon or Senegal progressed to the final, that Jurgen Klopp would lose two of his biggest players until the 5th of February.
Speaking to Voetbal Magazine, Cameroon manager Hugo Bross spoke of his intention to try and persuade Matip to join up with the national team for the AFCON.
“When I took over as coach I asked him [Matip] to return, but he said to me he was not convinced. I’ve heard that he is now prepared to make a comeback and so I am going to go and see him again.”
As was horribly clear against Bournemouth, Liverpool are very poor without Matip’s comforting presence at the back. A centre-back pairing of Dejan Lovren and Lucas Leiva cannot guide Liverpool through January – a typically congested month.
Liverpool are currently third in the league, but that would change very quickly if Klopp had to make do without both Matip and Mane. Liverpool’s only two defeats this season – against Burnley and Bournemouth – came without either Mane or Matip, which demonstrates their importance to Liverpool.