Liverpool opinion: Joel Matip has been the unsung hero for Liverpool in 2019
Liverpool lost Joe Gomez to a fractured lower leg in December against Burnley.
The English centre-back had done a wonderful job alongside Virgil van Dijk at the start of the campaign, and losing him for a couple of months was a big blow.
Matters were made worse when his fracture didn’t heal quickly. The youngster had to go under the knife which kept him out for an additional month.
Dejan Lovren was having fitness issues and Jurgen Klopp turned to one of his first signings at Liverpool, Joel Matip, to solve his centre-back problem.
The Cameroon defender was shunted down the pecking order at the start of the season, but the 27-year-old is possibly playing in the form of his life.
Matip showing his class alongside Van Dijk
It is difficult to ascertain if playing alongside Van Dijk turns every defender into a world-class centre-back but that is exactly what Matip has been since the start of 2019.
We must remember that the former Schalke defender missed a month with a broken collarbone suffered in the Champions League win over Napoli.
The 27-year-old hasn’t wowed Anfield since moving on a free from Schalke, however, he has been close to perfect in recent weeks.
In the last 10 games, Matip has started, we have only conceded seven goals. It isn’t easy coming into a team and performing at a high level, especially with so much riding on the season, but the centre-back has shown his class at the back.
Matip isn’t the quickest defender in the world but he does have one skill that is always on show, the ability to dribble with the ball.
The 27-year-old doesn’t always look like he is in control when he charges into the opposition half, but he causes havoc at the back.
His dribbles have caused mayhem in several games and it is only a matter of time when he smacks the ball into the net like Daniel Agger used to.
It is also telling that the manager hasn’t changed the pairing of Van Dijk and Matip even after Gomez returned to fitness.
Gomez might be preferred to Matip but Klopp is taking his time bringing the Englishman back into the side.
The defender has made a couple of sub appearances recently and it seems like the right decision from Klopp to keep Matip in the starting XI.
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The Cameroonian wasn’t our first-choice at the start of the season at the back, but his performances have proved he is capable of doing a fine job for the Reds.