Liverpool defender Joel Matip has signalled his intention to stay at the club during the African Cup of Nations in order to focus on the start of his career at Anfield.
Similar to many Premier League stars such as teammate Sadio Mane and Manchester United's Eric Bailly, Matip was expected to take part in African football's showpiece occasion which would have seen him miss at least three Liverpool games - including a trip to Old Trafford.
The 25-year-old has made a very encouraging start to life in the Premier League following his summer move from Schalke, producing some dominant performances and quickly establishing himself as a first-choice in Jurgen Klopp's back four.
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The German-born Cameroon international has 27 caps for his national team, but he's given Liverpool a huge boost by indicating his plans to remain on Merseyside during the tournament which takes place in Gabon across January and February.
"I would say at the moment I will be concentrating on Liverpool," Matip told the Telegraph. "It's a long time until January so you never know, but that is the idea.
"Last year I had injury problems. The extra games and travelling were going to make it harder for me. I had to listen to my body and it told me that the international week was the right time to have a break.
"I spoke with the Cameroon manager and he was not happy, but I have to do what is right to be 100% and make sure I am not injured again, especially at an important time in my career starting at Liverpool."
Matip has not played for Cameroon in over a year, however the centre-back doesn't want to interrupt his first season in English football and believes that this decision will ensure that he is in the best possible physical condition for his new club.
The Liverpool squad is blessed with lots of attacking talents, but many people feel that it's their defensive problems which have prevented them from finding consistency under Klopp.
Matip made his debut in a 5-0 win at Burton Albion, but it's in his two displays against Tottenham and Leicester City that he has looked like the strong, physical presence Liverpool desperately need.
The central defender will look to continue his good form on Friday night when the Premier League weekend kicks off with the highly anticipated clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Can Matip become one of the Premier League's best centre-backs? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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