A closer look at Joel Matip's 2021-22 campaign and his future

A closer look at Joel Matip's 2021-22 campaign and his future

When Liverpool signed Joel Matip from Schalke on a free transfer back in the summer of 2016, we were excited.

That was simply because a world-class manager had informed us he had acquired a top centre-back.

Jurgen Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com the following when Matip joined the club: “I am very happy. Everybody who knows him would have been interested. Maybe he’s not the most famous player in England, but he’s 24 and has played about 200 Bundesliga games for Schalke.

“He is a top-class centre-half, very young but experienced. You don’t have that too often. To be honest, when I had my break I thought for the next club, I should think about Joel, if there was a need.

“He never played for my team (Borussia Dortmund), he did the extreme opposite – he played for their biggest opponent! Maybe that says a lot about his quality. Even when he played for the team you cannot love as Dortmund manager, you see his quality. Then that’s real quality."

However, Matip has struggled with injury during his time at Anfield, which means that we have not always seen the best of him.

The 30-year-old's performances were somewhat inconsistent as a result of his fitness issues.

But, Matip was able to put his injury woes behind him last season and perform well.

He averaged a WhoScored player rating of 7.21 across the 2021-22 campaign (43 appearances in all competitions).

The defender was arguably as good as Virgil van Dijk last season. Former Red Jamie Carragher said the same.

“He’s been fantastic,” he told Sky Sports (00:55).

“He’s been as good as Virgil van Dijk this season, he’s been outstanding, he really has. I think Matip this season, his ability to come out with the ball as well, the defensive record alongside Virgil van Dijk is outstanding.”

Despite that being the case, Ibrahima Konate started ahead of Matip in the 2022 Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris.

Therefore, we have been asking ourselves, what does the future hold for the veteran?

Konate is only 23 years of age, so he is clearly the future of Liverpool's defence. Comments from teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold back up the aforementioned argument.

He told LFCTV GO the following: “Outstanding, the performance he put in yesterday (during the Champions League final), I’m lost for words to be honest.

“I honestly can’t say anything, words wouldn’t do justice to the way I felt about the performance yesterday. I don’t know why, but I felt proud of him, it’s the Champions League final!”

Alexander-Arnold added: “We’ve created a bond, we get along so well, he’s an amazing lad and an unbelievable player, the potential he has is ridiculous.

“So I’m very proud of him, I think the sky is the limit, there’s no ceiling on his potential. Hopefully we’ll win a lot of trophy’s together me and him.”

But, regardless of the fact that Konate is already such a good player, Matip's time at Anfield is far from done as far as we are concerned.

The reality is, Liverpool play in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. Squad rotation is necessary.

Matip is also contracted until the conclusion of the 2023-24 campaign, so he is clearly in Klopp's long-term plans.

Hopefully the centre-back can stay fit for the majority of next season. There is no denying that he is a valuable asset when available for selection.

However, only time will tell who Van Dijk's main partner is for the 2022-23 campaign.

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