Jürgen Klopp is seeking legal advice in a bid to best understand the clearest way forward with Joel Matip seemingly ineligible to play for the club.
You just need to listen to Jürgen Klopp’s pre-Plymouth Argyle press conference to hear how vexed the Liverpool manager is over the situation regarding the saga that is drawing out between Joel Matip and Cameroon’s Football Federation.
Liverpool withdrew Matip from their matchday squad to play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday due to a lack of clarity on whether or not he is eligible to play.
The latest report is from the Liverpool ECHO, saying that Klopp will seek legal advice to determine if it’s wise to play Joel Matip against FA Cup opposition Plymouth Argyle. There is a lack of clarity surrounding the potential disciplinary repercussions of playing Matip without waiting for confirmation from FIFA and this is what Klopp is seeking to understand.
“Of course I need advice, I’m not a lawyer,” said the Reds boss. “But the decision is for me to make.
“I could put him in the line-up, I don’t think the referee is going to say ‘stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch’.
“We have had a lot of talks over the days and weeks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this!
“It’s already long-term, but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything, but at the end I have to make the decision.”
On the subject of sanctions from FIFA for playing Matip, Klopp explained, “We don’t know. It’s not 100% clear what happens (if we play him).
“You have to decide about risk. But he’d only been in training three or four days back in training and he’d have been on the bench (at United) rather than the starting line-up.
“Because we play Plymouth, maybe not the highest intensity game for a centre-half, it would make sense (to play him).
“Now he is ready to play for us, that makes it difficult.”
Liverpool might decide to wait until the end of the week and not risk playing Matip as FIFA will be in contact before the week is out. The ECHO claim that the governing body will either allow Matip to play immediately or open an investigation which could last up to 10 days, ruling the Cameroonian centre-half out of this weekend’s Premier League fixture against Swansea, the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton and, if Liverpool beat Plymouth this evening, an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Klopp is, for lack of a better word: displeased.
“It’s not about blaming anybody, but you can imagine it’s not too easy to get in contact with the decisive people,” he said.
“The decisive people at the end are the president of the Cameroon FA and Mr (Gianni) Infantino from FIFA. My dream is a letter from the official side of Cameroon that says the player is released and can play for Liverpool.
“We would have let him go (to the Africa Cup of Nations). Sadio Mane is playing for Senegal. It’s not that the Africa Cup doesn’t fit our plans, or whatever. We would have let him go. But my understand is that it’s a free world, and if you don’t want to play for the national team and have different reasons for it, then it should be possible.
“We can all makes decision. Whole countries can leave the EU and nobody can say ‘no you can’t’. Obviously, you can. We are not the club who says ‘we don’t want to have Africa Cup of Nations’. I like this tournament. Sadio is there. Ask Man United if they were happy if Sadio plays in the Africa Cup of Nations, and all the other teams we’re about to play.
“We are not (happy). If we could use him, we would. But he is there. Another player (Matip) has made a decision has said he wants to stay at the club, and how we have this situation.”
Klopp added, “For the future of all international players, there need to be real rules, no commentaries or anything like that.
“It’s not about blaming, it’s only about understanding the situation, and then, in the end, going ‘these are the rules’.”
So, we know where Klopp stands on the matter.