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Why This New Liverpool Signing (Not Mane) Can Lay Down the Marker In The Premier League This Season?

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One of the big lessons learned from that 2-1 victory over Chelsea was that Joel Matip may not be just in the squad to add up the numbers. Signed from Schalke in the summer, not much was expected from the 25-year-old in the campaign as he came on a free transfer and he, initially, was seen as the third choice central defender behind Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho. In an incredible turn of events that saw Sakho fall out of favour during the summer, Matip has gained prominence in the squad.

Former Liverpool defender John Aldridge has even gone as far as saying that Matip could become the next Sami Hyypia. This is quite high praise indeed given that Hyypia was one of the best defenders to have represented Liverpool since the turn of the century. Standing at 6 ft 5 in, Matip has a similar physical stature to that of Hyypia and he could be one of the better-equipped players to deal with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is one of the leading scorers in the early days of this Premier League campaign.

Ironically, Matip may have played in three games for the club but he is yet to keep a clean sheet in any of those matches. Of course, these have been the toughest run of games for Liverpool so far this campaign as it has been against Tottenham, Leicester City, and Chelsea.

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One of the few mistakes Matip has made so far was in the Chelsea game when he went down far too quickly in order to get the ball off Nemanja Matic, who was then able to take advantage and find Diego Costa with precision. However, this tenacity is the reason behind a whopping 7.7 clearances per game by Matip. It also shows that he is often left as the last man standing and also has a greater percentage of clearances than tackles [1.3] or interceptions [1.7] per game.

Matip can lay down a marker in the Premier League going forward as well, but he badly is in need of a clean sheet to cement his reputation as one of the top defender is in the league. His physical presence makes him a formidable opponent to beat if strikers want to win headers. He will also be a major advantage for Liverpool during the set pieces. The three games, though, Matip has shown promise like none other and he could be one of the best buys of the 2016 summer transfer window.

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