According to a report from Liverpool’s Official Website, defender Joel Matip is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to a foot injury.
The Cameroonian defender sustained the injury during Liverpool’s 0-0 stalemate with Everton back in June – the club’s first match following the Premier League restart.
With Liverpool having secured the club’s 19th league championship following Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea a week ago, the setback to Matip may not prove detrimental but there are still factors worth processing in the wake of the injury.
Firstly Matip’s setback all but ends any plans Jurgen Klopp may have had to rotate between Joe Gomez and Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s central defensive partner.
Both of the Dutchman’s defensive comrades have been hindered by injuries over the past 24 months which will mean that Klopp may have intended for either player to have a sustained rest period in between matches.
With Matip now unavailable it will likely mean that Dejan Lovren will rotate with Gomez in between Liverpool’s remaining seven matches of the season.
However, Lovren, 30, has been regularly touted with an Anfield exit this summer meaning Klopp will likely have preferred to experiment between Gomez and Matip rather than the Croatian international.
Matip’s availability would have helped ease the pressure off Gomez, who himself has been plagued by injuries since joining the Reds in 2015.
The rotation between the two players could have seen Liverpool go into the summer unscathed and without any major defensive injury worries.
Following on from Matip’s heroics last season that were fundamental in Liverpool registering 97 points in the league as well as securing the club’s sixth European Cup, it’s hard to believe that he has only featured in nine of the Reds’ 31 league matches this season.
Matip is unbeaten in the league for Liverpool in which he has featured since January 2018 (vs Swansea) and the player has proven one of the club’s finest acquisitions after moving from the Bundesliga on a free transfer in 2016.
Van Dijk has unquestionably been Liverpool’s finest performer in the defensive department this season but it was Matip at the beginning of the season who was the difference in ensuring the Reds came flying out the blocks with nine straight league victories.
Although Gomez and Van Dijk complement each other perfectly as a double act and appear the future of Liverpool’s defensive system, Matip has more than maintained the standard that Klopp holds dear.
The 28-year-old defender, a free signing from Schalke three years ago, has numerously demonstrated his ability to stride forward with the ball at his feet and open up space for team-mates.
Matip’s time at Liverpool has been a rollercoaster. He proved a big hit in his first six months at Anfield before losing his way alarmingly. He wasn’t helped by a succession of injury issues and at times he appeared too lightweight and was too often made to look vulnerable by opponents.
He was even Liverpool’s fourth-choice centre-back at one stage and was firmly on the periphery and at risk of being left behind. Matip’s transformation has been remarkable since. Quiet and unassuming in the dressing room, Matip is a man of few words but he has flourished with the vocal presence of Van Dijk and has given Klopp another element in his defensive quartet.
Having signed a long-term extension to his Liverpool contract back in October 2019, Klopp’s showcase of faith has shown that Matip remains a key figure for the team and his return from injury cannot come soon enough.