Liverpool have been forced to withdraw Joël Matip from their match against Manchester United on Sunday after failing to get clearance from Fifa.
Matip, who was poised to return at Old Trafford after an ankle injury, has been in dispute with Cameroon over his availability for the Africa Cup of Nations. He has not played for Cameroon in more than a year after a disagreement with the national team, while still a Schalke player, and said as long ago as September that he did not wish to be considered for the tournament.
However, Liverpool have so far been unable to get clearance over his eligibility to play against United from the world’s governing body and have therefore left him out of the matchday squad.
“Liverpool Football Club can confirm Joël Matip has been withdrawn from selection for today’s Premier League fixture at Manchester United as the club continues to seek clarity from Fifa as to the player’s eligibility,” read a statement.
“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.
“It is Liverpool’s view that the player should be available for club football during the period of the competition and will continue to work for a speedy and unambiguous resolution.”
Liverpool are not the first Premier League club to be frustrated because of international clearance delaying a player’s eligibility, with West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth both facing similar situations in recent weeks.
The Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe was unable to feature against Arsenal this month because DR Congo did not give clearance to Fifa in time, while Allan Nyom has not played in West Brom’s past two matches, owing to a similar circumstances.
The Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne also misses the match at Old Trafford because of a rib injury he sustained in the EFL Cup defeat at Southampton. The abdominal injury to Clyne means the defender misses his first league match of the season. The 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold replaces the full-back in Jürgen Klopp’s starting lineup and will make his first Premier League start.