A Tribute To Joel Matip

There’s certainly no doubt that the Jurgen Klopp era of Liverpool Football Club represents one of the most successful periods in club history. Throughout this still-ongoing stretch, we’ve had the pleasure of watching so many talented players put on the famous red shirt and bring home many a trophy. For this piece, I’ve decided to highlight our big Cameroonian, Joel Matip. Sadly, Joel may have played his last game in a LFC shirt against Fulham a couple of weeks back, suffering an unfortunate ACL tear.

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A Key Piece

Many Reds supporters always have this image of Joel Matip as this tall, awkward, gentle giant. His accent matched the overall hilarity of his famous reactions and media appearances throughout his career at the club. In the context of the pitch, however, he has undoubtedly been our second-best defender of the Klopp era.

His peak of 2018 to 2022 saw him just as good as the colossal Virgil van Dijk. The two formed an imperious partnership throughout those years. His trademark driving runs from the back, referred to playfully as “going on an adventure” by the Liverpool faithful, and calmness in possession were staples of his time. Matip’s defensive nous placed him among the best center-halves in the Premier League. He has time and time again proved invaluable to Klopp’s best teams.

A Resurgence Cut Short

The Cameroonian international has been one of the surprises of the season. Most of that shock comes from how bad he looked for the majority of the 2022-23 campaign. Many thought his best days were behind him. Being on the wrong side of 30 will exacerbate that commentary. To be fair to Joel though, most of the side underachieved last season. Needless to say, you could be forgiven for thinking it was probably the best time to cash in on the veteran defender.

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This season couldn’t be more different. Matip reaffirmed himself as Virgil’s best partner up until his unfortunate injury against the Cottagers. He put in throwback shifts against the likes of Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton, and West Ham. It is cruel that such a renaissance was cut short so abruptly. To make matters worse, it leaves Liverpool without one of their most experienced and accomplished defenders in a season where they are firmly in a title race.

What’s Next For Matip?

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Joel Matip. Nevertheless, the question of his future at the club is certainly on everyone’s minds. This season marks the final year of his Liverpool contract. At the time of writing, there is no news of a possible extension.

It’s worth noting that Jurgen Klopp himself came out and said he is open to the idea of offering Matip a one-year deal that will allow him to see out his career at the club properly. However, the ruthless nature of sports certainly places sentimentality as a low priority among managers.

Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, and of course Steven Gerrard, are all prime examples of beloved players let go by the club once over the hill. Fenway Sports Group is also reluctant to hand out deals to players at this stage of their careers. It’s a safe bet that although Klopp is receptive to the idea, ownership won’t be.

Whatever happens past this season, it’s hard to debate Matip’s impact with Klopp’s Liverpool. He definitely should be celebrated as one of the best center halves in the league at his peak. Most of all, he should be lauded as an excellent servant to Liverpool Football Club.

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