Pep Lijnders has hailed the business Liverpool did in bringing Joel Matip to the club for free in 2016.
In an interview with The Coaches’ Voice, Lijnders claimed that Matip to Liverpool is potentially the best free signing in history.
“Joel Matip was maybe the best free signing ever in world football,” said the Liverpool assistant manager.
A big claim from Pep that some will surely dismiss. But it’s a claim that should be taken seriously. Since signing for Liverpool Matip has played a huge part in The Reds winning everything there is to win.
Is Matip the best free signing in history?
If we’re talking just in terms of Liverpool history, then Matip has some decent competition for this crown.
James Milner is the most recent name that springs to mind. The veteran midfielder has been a massive player for The Reds since his arrival in 2015. His influence off the pitch arguably outweighs that on it, but he’s still made 290 appearances over seven years, scoring 26 goals.
The other major competitor to Matip would be current Aston Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister.
After arriving as a 35-year-old in 2000, it was expected that McAllister would play no more than a bit-part for Gerard Houllier. Instead, he delivered some huge moments in Liverpool’s magnificent treble win of 2000/01.
The Scotsman scored nine goals in 87 games over two years at Liverpool. But that barely does justice to the impact he had on players such as a young Steven Gerrard.
Stiff competition, but Matip holds his own
If we’re talking about world football, then the competition for Matip is decidedly stiffer.
The 30-year-old actually stacks up better than you might think. Regardless, it’s hard to look beyond Robert Lewandowski’s move to Bayern Munich in 2014.
Lewandowski scored 344 goals in 375 for Bayern, winning numerous trophies along the way. The Polish striker even made his club an enormous profit when he left for around £42.5m this summer.
Matip may not fetch Liverpool the same kind of fee when he eventually leaves Anfield. That will suit him just fine though. The Cameroonian has never sought the limelight.
Unfortunately for him, his brilliant abilities mean sometimes he can’t avoid it. You’d never catch Matip admitting it, but he well and truly belongs in the kind of company Lijnders is putting him in here.