Joel Matip is undoubtedly one of Liverpool's best pieces of transfer business

James Milner is often lauded as one of the best free transfers that the club has secured by most of the Anfield faithful.

However, we strongly believe that Joel Matip has been just as good for Liverpool as the Englishman.

Back in the summer of 2016, the Reds signed the centre-back from Schalke without paying a transfer fee.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp did make it clear that he had convinced a good player to join the club when the deal was confirmed.

“He’s become a really experienced centre-half – tall but flexible and quick. A perfect header of the ball, he scores four or five goals a season, and is good in the buildup," the 54-year-old said, as quoted by The Guardian.

“He was an easy choice. I know in England it is really difficult to sign a player without paying a transfer fee but I thought it cannot be a reason not to take him only because you cannot put a number behind his name. If you asked in Germany what other clubs would have paid for him had he still been under contract, you can just pick a number.

“In Germany, for a player of his quality who is out of contract, there are a lot of clubs in the running. Schalke is a big club who have played the last four or five years in the Champions League. They made him a big offer to stay, they wanted to keep him. There are probably only three or four clubs in Germany who could get Matip when he is at Schalke – [Borussia] Dortmund, and that’s not possible, Bayern [Munich], maybe [Bayer] Leverkusen and maybe Wolfsburg. Finish. The rest, no chance. Then you have to think about other countries and that is what he wanted to do, and we moved early enough."

Klopp added: “ He can be a really good centre-half in the Premier League.”

The German was certainly not wrong. Since then, Matip has made 152 appearances for Liverpool's first-team and performed to a high standard.

Klopp even labelled the defender as "world-class" back in 2019, which highlights just how well he has played at certain times during his Anfield career.

During the 2018-19 campaign, Matip was a key reason why Liverpool won the Champions League. He made eight appearances in the competition that season and started in the final against Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

Liverpool won the match 2-0. Matip ultimately helped the Reds keep a clean sheet on the night.

In terms of this season, Matip has been very good. He has been averaging a WhoScored player rating of 7.18 across all competitions.

As former Red Jamie Carragher has pointed out in the past, Matip goes under the radar because he is not a huge name.

As quoted by HITC, the Scouser told Sky Sports the following back in October 2021: “He is player who goes under the radar because he is not a huge name, he has come on a free transfer."

Carragher added: "But, every time he plays, he is top class. He really is.”

Matip and Virgil van Dijk have created a very solid partnership over the years. But, the duo have been exceptional this season.

Matip and Van Dijk have been Liverpool's first-choice centre-backs across the 2021-22 Premier League campaign. The Reds have only conceded 20 goals in 26 games, which highlights how well they played alongside each other.

Matip has even shown that he is capable of finding the back of the net during his time at Liverpool. He has scored seven goals during his time as a Red.

The only real negative regarding Matip's time at Anfield is his injury record. The centre-back has missed a number of games due to knocks.

But, that doesn't take anything away from how good Matip has been for Liverpool.

He is contracted until the summer of 2024. Therefore, we should get to watch Matip represent the club for at least a couple more years.

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