The summer signing from Schalke had been set to make a return at Old Trafford after an injury, but both the club and player have been in dispute with Cameroon over his availability for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Had a reply from FIFA to say that Matip's eligibility for #LFC is being investigated by their disciplinary committee. No time frame given.— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) January 16, 2017
Matip hasn't featured for his national team since 2015 and stated back in September that he did not wish to be considered for the tournament.
Despite Matip's declaration, Liverpool had issues in seeking clarity over their defender's eligibility to play against United, and released a statement on their website.
“Liverpool Football Club can confirm Joel Matip has been withdrawn from selection for today’s Premier League fixture at Manchester United..."
Liverpool who pay Matip's wages, can't play Matip because his country are involved in a tournament he has no interest in. What a joke.— Joseph Musker (@Musker_LFC) January 15, 2017
“Matip, who was not included in Cameroon’s final squad for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, has previously communicated his withdrawal from consideration for international selection, with his last appearance for Cameroon occurring in September 2015.
“The Cameroon Football Federation have failed to confirm that Matip can therefore play club football during the period of the Africa Cup of Nations. Liverpool have subsequently repeatedly sought, as a matter of urgency, clarity from Fifa in this regard. This includes assurances the player was called up for the tournament in accordance with the world governing body’s regulations."
Journalist Rob Harris tweeted the ambiguous reply from FIFA, which mentioned an investigation into the matter, but suggested no deadline to when it would be resolved:
UPDATE on Joel Matip. FIFA not saying if it accepts his international retirement so is eligible for Liverpool: pic.twitter.com/Q1KT4xXDUr— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 16, 2017
Harris later tweeted FIFA could provide no further comment on Matip's current eligibility for Liverpool, meaning the confusing situation could see the Cameroonian miss out on more Reds matches until the dispute is resolved one way or the other.
@TonyBarrett Followup, so is Matip eligible or not for Liverpool, FIFA: "For the moment we cannot provide any further comment"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 16, 2017
Matip joined Liverpool in the summer of 2016 following 16 years with Schalke, whom he joined as a nine-year-old in 2000.
Although German-born the 25-year-old chose to represent Cameroon at international level and made 27 appearances before apparently retiring in 2015, notably scoring twice in 2014 World Cup against Brazil.
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