Although no official word has been received on Joël Matip’s eligibility, Liverpool are set to play him against Plymouth Argyle on Wednesday. FIFA are investigating the case with customary haste and common sense, but Liverpool will not wait to hear back from FIFA after being frustated in their attempts to find clarification so far.
According to reports, the only information Liverpool have received from FIFA is that Liverpool could face disciplinary action if Matip appears for his club without permission from the Cameroonian Football Federation. What would be ideal is that President Joseph OwonaTombi À Roko Sidiki intervenes quickly to resolve the situation and start the process of rebuilding relations with a key player.
For Liverpool, though, the situation is clear. Klopp and FSG believe that the circumstances and evidence favour Liverpool considerably, and so, playing Matip isn't the risk it appears to be. The 25-year-old hasn't played for Cameroon since late 2015 and is effectively retired from international football. Whether his international retirement is official is another matter, but it was clear for some time that Matip did not intend to play at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in his first season on Merseyside.
In the worst and most unlikely scenario, playing Matip during Cameroon’s AFCON participation would incur sanctions such as expulsion from the domestic cup competitions he features in or a points deduction for featuring in Premier League matches. There would be a fine to consider, too. He has missed the last eight matches in all competitions with an ankle injury, and the FA Cup third round replay against Plymouth would be a fantastic opportunity to give a key player much-needed game time.
In the absence of clarity, Liverpool must hope that reason will prevail.