Liverpool’s central defensive acquisition Joel Matip will be unavailable for a section of his debut Premier League campaign due to the African Cup of Nations.
Cameroon have now qualified for the tournament which runs between January and February, meaning the 24-year-old centre-back could miss six Premier League games, and FA Cup and League Cup fixtures should we still be in the competitions.
He hasn’t been called up since November, but is their best defender and will likely be a shoe-in come the tournament set to be held in Gabon.
Liverpool secured a Bosman deal for Matip earlier in 2016, and the Schalke star will officially complete his move when his contract with the Germans expires at the end of this month.
He’ll arrive to compete with Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez for a starting berth, with Kolo Toure set for release and Martin Skrtel likely to exit (via Metro) too.
His temporary departure for the AFCON could see Gomez get minutes. The wonderkid Englishman started last campaign brilliantly but an injury decimated his season, and he’ll now be playing catch-up to earn a chance alongside Liverpool’s more experienced pros.
Matip is a cool and composed defender, who offers height and aerial ability to a backline. Hopefully, his arrival will shore up our shaky defence – which cost us on multiple occasions during 2015/16.