Joel Matip in context: The defender's 5 best moments at Liverpool

Following the devastating news that Joel Matip has ruptured his ACL, there's a growing concern the centre back may have already played his final game for Liverpool.

Matip comes to the end of his Anfield contract in the summer of 2024 and is unlikely to return to the field before then.

Liverpool do have a recent history of standing by players on expiring contracts with long-term injuries, notably extending the deals of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana. However, whether Matip, now 32, gets the same treatment remains to be seen.

What is clear is that the German-born former Cameroon international has been a hugely important โ€“ and much-loved โ€“ figure of the Jurgen Klopp era.

Arriving as a free transfer from Schalke in the summer of 2016, ahead of Klopp's first full season, he has been a fixture for the entire rise of the club.

What a ride it's been.

If this is to be the end, Matip has at least enjoyed many magnificent moments and contributed greatly across 201 first-team appearances, winning trophies and the hearts of fans everywhere.

Here are his top five moments at Liverpool (with context).

5. Last-minute winner

Liverpool's Champions League campaign got off to an absolute nightmare last season.

The Reds went to Napoli and lost 4-1 to the eventual Italian champions โ€“ in truth, Klopp's out of sorts side couldn't get near them.

So when they went into their second fixture in the group, this time against Ajax, Liverpool desperately needed a positive result. They struggled towards it, however. Mohamed Salah put the Reds in front but Mohammed Kudus equalised.

The game headed towards a disappointing draw - only for Joel Matip to find an 89th-minute winner from a corner. It's the defender's sole Champions League goal for the Reds and one that inspired five straight wins to end that group stage.

A classic European night at Anfield inspired by the big man.

4. Angry walk

One that sums up what a lot of fans love about Matip. The defender just has a way about him that brings a smile to people's faces.

Perhaps the best example of the quirky personality that inspired a Twitter account came against Everton in that game back in 2020, when the Reds suffered awful injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago.

The latter, after a terrible foul by Richarlison, sparked an angry exclamation from Matip, who marched towards the referee in bizarre fashion.

There's no-one else in the world you'd want stomping weirdly in your corner.

3.Leeds United goal

Matip's walks are not only silly, they are also dangerous for the opposition.

The defender made it a hallmark of his to carry the ball out from the back and occasionally go on adventures.

Liverpool's centre-backs often have plenty of time on the ball and with such emphasis on the wide areas, there was space to move into.

Matip, in particular, would drift forward on the ball towards the edge of the opposition box. And in one game against Leeds United in 2022, he went even further with it.

Moving forward, the centre back sent the ball out wide to Mohamed Salah before carrying on his run. Past the midfield, past the defence; the defender suddenly found himself ready for a through-pass that Salah was more than willing to send.

And like an elite forward, Matip simply lifted the ball over the goalkeeper to score a fantastic goal. It felt like it was a long time coming, after threatening so regularly with his opposition-half sojurns.

A brilliant goal and Matip at his best.

2. Premier League Player of the Month

Playing alongside Virgil van Dijk does make it difficult for any other defenders to get much acknowledgement. He's the best in the world, one of the greatest ever seen at Anfield, and the leader of the Reds' defence.

And so it should be a testament to Matip's skills as a defender that he has managed to step out of that shadow and actually look like Liverpool's best. Proof of that lies in him winning the February 2022 Premier League Player of the Month award.

Matip fully deserved the award for his efforts that month โ€“ an assist against Leicester, his goal against Leeds and three clean sheets.

Much deserved recognition that he wasn't just a key member of the Liverpool squad but one of the best defenders in the country.

1. All-time assist

Liverpool have had far too many incredible moments to mention since Matip arrived at the club. However, arguably stands out above all โ€“ Divock Origi's clincher in the 2019 Champions League final.

It wrapped up the trophy and put Liverpool on top of world football. Moments don't really get bigger than that โ€“ and Matip was the one who supplied the ball to the striker for the goal.

It's more than worth mentioning that Matip was outstanding in that game as a whole. Liverpool essentially played the entire game just trying to keep Tottenham Hotspur at bay and they did just that, with the defender playing a key role.

But his assist for Origi's goal means Matip will forever be there making his mark in one of the most iconic Liverpool moments ever.

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