By James Miller – @JamesMillernews
What a resurgence it has been for Joel Matip in recent weeks for Liverpool. The Cameroonian – signed on a free from Schalke – looked all but a squad player just a few months ago, and now he’s out there pocketing the great Lionel Messi. Who would have known?
In his first season on Merseyside, the consensus around the gangly centre half was that he doesn’t inspire confidence. In fact, he unnerved me whenever I saw him with the ball at his feet. However, having said that, this season when he has played, he has looked an entirely different animal.
Cool. Confident. Calm. Collected. You name it, he has showed it of late.
There has to be a lot of respect put on Matip’s name. Arguably, he found himself as the fourth choice in his position behind this season’s PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk, as well as Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren. A situation that clearly doesn’t appear to have phased him as an individual. He’s now provided a dilemma to Klopp as to how do you drop this man?
Prior to December 5 when Liverpool took on Burnley, the man formerly named in the Bundesliga team of the season had only been awarded eight appearances, with four of those being just a minute or two here and there.
All appeared lost for Liverpool when Joe Gomez suffered a serious injury keeping him out for months. Immediately the choices for centre back were looking slim and it was questioned whether Klopp would have maybe dipped into the January transfer market for reinforcements. The answer was no.
Since the Burnley game though, Matip has missed just four matches and shown some impressive form to keep Liverpool’s dreams of a league and European cup double firmly alive.
The Reds as a unit have been sparkling form for around two months now.
Klopp’s men have not dropped a single league point since a disappointing Merseyside Derby draw and have also seen off the likes of Bayern Munich, Porto and Barcelona in the Champions League to reach a second successive final in the process.
Matip has been pivotal in that surge of impressive results and has definitely shown his qualities that many hoped to see when his signing was initially announced.
With constant rumours circulating with regards to new defenders, most notably young Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, it is unclear as to what the future holds for Liverpool and some players. It has to be said, mind, that Matip has served the club with nothing but the best of attitudes to his credit.
Just last week Vincent Kompany thundered home an effort of the highest quality and all hopes of a Premier League crown at the end of the season ended for the Reds but, after a miraculous performance in the Champions League, Liverpool are in a second final on the spin.
Matip has put in several outstanding performances so far this season. Having said that, his showing against Barcelona, at Anfield and three goals down has to be somewhere near the top. We still believe and clearly so do the players, and that belief will be carried on to Madrid.