Jürgen Klopp believes Joel Matip’s decision not to represent Cameroon in the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations and remain with Liverpool is good news for his side.
The centre-back – who is back in training having missed last weekend’s trip to Bournemouth - will stay with the Reds in January, rather than taking part in the tournament with Indomitable Lions in Gabon in the New Year.
Klopp told his pre-West Ham press conference at Melwood: “We actually had this talk a few weeks ago already, so I was not surprised [by the news].
“Of course, I am happy about this, there is no doubt, but the players make these decisions by themselves – there is nothing the club can do.
“For Joel it is different because he has grown up in Germany and all that stuff, so that’s different – that’s always different and there are a few players like this – and so he decided this for himself and that is good for us.”
LFCTV GO: Klopp on Matip decision
The news has been greeted equally as positively by Liverpool supporters, who have quickly taken to Matip thanks to his seamless start to life in the Premier League following a summer transfer from FC Schalke.
Indeed, his absence in last Sunday’s 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth has been pointed to as a key factor in the outcome at the Vitality Stadium in some quarters; however, while Klopp is delighted with the impact the 25-year-old has made so far, he feels the lack of his presence in the back line wasn’t the reason for the loss.
The boss continued: “He is a good player and obviously has adapted pretty quickly to what we need. It’s worked really well. But it’s not fair, even the centre-halves were not perfect around the goals [we’ve conceded] – and that’s pretty likely most of the time we’ve conceded goals, the centre-half is around and could have done better. At Burnley, the other game we lost, we should have defended the goals much earlier than in the centre-half region. We made similar mistakes again – and again a team used it.
“It was clear a lot of people would say a lot of things about what we did wrong [at Bournemouth] – and they are right, but it was one match. We had a few similar problems in other matches which the opponent didn’t use, so we were already aware of it, but this game helped us a lot to really understand what the problem is with our protection sometimes. That’s all.
“Joel is a wonderful player but Luc, Dejan, Ragnar and Joe Gomez in the future again, they are really good football players and they will do a wonderful job for Liverpool – and they have done already. If you want to judge finally these players then do it, I won’t do this.”