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Joel Matip Reportedly Rejects Cameroon, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Opportunity

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Joel Matip of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on September 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip reportedly won't play at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after turning down the chance to feature for Cameroon.

Former Schalke 04 defender Matip will instead be available for Liverpool's fixtures between the tournament dates of January 14 and February 5, according to Sky Sports News HQ.

Matip had previously been a fixture at international level, but he ran into trouble during 2015, when the player was critical of his country's national football setup, per the report. Matip even held talks with Indomitable Lions coach Hugo Broos to try to relieve tension, but the 25-year-old won't be making a return for the time being.

Matip won't help Cameroon at the AFCON.
Matip won't help Cameroon at the AFCON.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Matip has given Liverpool's season a boost by opting to remain outside the international framework. His continued presence can help solidify a suspect defence, one shaky enough to undermine the Reds' Premier League title challenge.

Liverpool are third in England's top flight but have already conceded 18 times this season, the most among the top four, per the division's official website. The Anfield club's defensive frailties were most recently exposed during a 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League.

It was a game Matip missed, prompting Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to put Brazilian holding midfielder Lucas Leiva alongside Dejan Lovren in defence. However, there's little doubt the Reds boast a better back four with Matip in the starting XI.

A free-transfer arrival in February, Matip has already earned plaudits as a quality addition to Liverpool's ranks. The Liverpool Echo's Neil Jones called Matip "one of the smartest signings Liverpool have made in years."

Klopp will be delighted to have Matip available in January.
Klopp will be delighted to have Matip available in January.GEOFF CADDICK/Getty Images

Matip will give Klopp the added resolve he needs at the back during a crucial month where the Reds will not only be chasing the league title, but will also face a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton.  

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