Liverpool are yet to hit their momentum in attacking third, but their composure at the back has exhibited significant improvement, particularly in Premier League football. They have conceded only 5 league goals so far and claimed 8 clean sheets in 13 games. The presence of Virgil van Dijk has made their backline resilient and the upsurge of Joe Gomez, as well as Dejan Lovren, has sent Joel Matip further down the pecking order making him club’s fourth-choice centre-back this campaign.
Matip, 27, featured regularly in deep defence since completing a Bosman transfer from Schalke 04 back in 2016. The Cameroonian, meanwhile, had injury concerns which eventually saw him losing his place towards the end of the previous term. He has started thrice so far this season – once each in Premier League, League Cup and Champions League which led to speculations of his possible transfer in winter for regular minutes amid reports linking him to a move to newly-promoted Fulham who are struggling deep down the league table and fighting to stay out of the drop zone.
But the defender has now cooled down all rumours and vowed to fight for his place defying the odds.
“I only concentrate now on the season on Liverpool and there’s nothing else in my mind. Everything else would only distract me.”
The player stated to Standard Sport in a recent interview ahead of the Reds Merseyside derby against Everton.
Liverpool, too, would prefer him to stay at least until the closure of the ongoing campaign in order to have enough depth at the back considering busy months of football lying ahead of them. Matip’s display has not been overwhelming, yet he brings in added strength in dying seconds while defending a narrow lead. His ability to play the ball out from the back is an attribute that marks him as Klopp’s player but the 6 ft 5 in centre-back needs overall improvement in his game to reclaim his starting role.
His contract runs down in 2020 and the next summer will be crucial for his forthcoming future. Matip, nevertheless, should keep on working on his limitations and must not lose concentration while the Reds are being viewed as prime title challengers of Manchester City.