Home » ARTICLES » Joel Matip saying his goodbye is not something Liverpool fans are ready for – TKT Opinion

Joel Matip saying his goodbye is not something Liverpool fans are ready for – TKT Opinion

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By Siddharth Juyal

Joel Matip leaves an incredible legacy, underappreciated by the media but fully admired by the Liverpool fans and his peers

Liverpool are saying farewell to many legendary figures at the end of this season including the Cameroonian defender Joel Matip. The 32-year-old says goodbye to Anfield after spending eight seasons with the Reds, starting and ending under Jurgen Klopp’s era.

Matip joined Liverpool from Schalke 04 during the summer of 2016 as one of the first summer signings under Klopp. Standing at 1.95 metres, the tall and lanky defender perfectly fits the profile that Klopp prefers in a central defender.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager enjoyed deploying defenders like Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic at his former club in Germany. Matip played for Borussia’s bitter rival Schalke which made it impossible for Klopp to acquire him for his former club.

Joel Matip leaves Liverpool with an incredible legacy and as one of the greatest free-agent signings in the club's history. (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Joel Matip leaves Liverpool with an incredible legacy and as one of the greatest free-agent signings in the club’s history. (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool have enjoyed signing some spectacular free agents in their history and they acquired James Milner for free in 2015. They needed to get this transfer right as the defence showed significant issues under the tumultuous tenure of Brendan Rodgers.

Matip arrived at Anfield and made a quick impression as a modest and soft-spoken person despite his imposing height. Matip established perfectly in Klopp’s high-pressing system that demands centre-backs to be good on the ball in possession and contribute.

Joel Matip – the epitome of a Liverpool defender

The 32-year-old is calm and composed, capable of making progressive runs on possession just as easily as finding passes. Matip’s passing ability has always gone under the radar at Liverpool despite playing a critical role throughout Klopp’s era.

The Cameroonian is imposing on both the aerial and ground duels but uses his game intelligence instead of physicality. Matip has made numerous well-timed challenges and interceptions that can fill a fine album or a video compilation to teach young defenders.

The 32-year-old relied on reading the game, using correct positioning and timing his movements to win back possession. He applied the same movements to score many headed goals from the set-piece situations and also while defending set-pieces.

Matip’s incredible dribbling skills created a running joke during the 2021-22 season when Liverpool chased the quadruple relentlessly. He eventually scored a spectacular goal against Leeds United in 2022 after dribbling and having a one-two with Mohamed Salah.

The 32-year-old made 201 appearances for Liverpool during his tenure, contributing with 11 goals and six assists. Matip’s issues with recurring injuries stopped him from featuring more despite him showing no signs of a drop in consistent performances.

The great defensive partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip – Behind the success of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp

In January 2018, Virgil van Dijk joined the Cameroonian to form a formidable partnership at the backline for the Reds. They played alongside two high-flying fullbacks Andy Robertson and young Trent Alexander-Arnold who notched up assists for fun.

Alisson Becker commanded the goalpost while Liverpool’s midfield engine of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum alongside midfield general Fabinho shielded the defence. As Milner called Matip’s “top meme generator”, his reactions played a key role for his teammates.

Matip shouted at himself and his teammates when things needed to improve and celebrated like a madman as well. For anyone watching from afar, it is not a bad guess to call him the life of the party or the heart of the team.

The 32-year-old achieved numerous trophies with the Reds, playing a crucial role in each of their success under Klopp. Liverpool won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League (2018-19) and the Carabao Cup with Matip. He also won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup with the Reds during his eight-season stint.

Joel Matip – Loved by the Liverpool fans, players and staff

While Van Dijk’s reputation enjoyed a steep rise, Matip worked his magic under the radar, without needing similar recognition. Nevertheless, the Kopites noticed and they loved the Cameroon defender as much as his Dutch partner throughout their journey.

It is not a secret that Matip’s biggest fan is Van Dijk himself and the Dutchman has vocally mentioned regularly. The 32-year-old also holds the respect and admiration of all his peers and staff, becoming one of the locker-room leaders.

More Liverpool News

Liverpool fans are going through an intensely emotional week with the departure of their beloved manager, Klopp. The news of Matip, multiple staff members and Thiago Alcantara saying farewell to Anfield has only added more sadness.

Matip is a Liverpool legend and as the Kopites wish him well for the future, the brilliant central defender will always be welcome back with open arms if he remains in football after he retires.