Joel Matip looked confused to be substituted for Jarell Quansah with Liverpool 1-0 down to Newcastle yesterday.

As the Reds searched for the goals they would ultimately get to turn the game around, Matip was taken of with around 13 minutes to play.

It was a slightly strange decision from Jurgen Klopp, with 20-year-old Quansah on for his debut. And speaking to LFCTV after the game, Liverpool legend Phil Thompson said that even Matip seemed bemused by the decision.

Joel Matip
Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

“I thought the substitutions were great, you look at them even bringing on Quansah. You could go, ‘oh my goodness, you take off Joel Matip.’ Even Joel looked a bit confused,” Thompson said.

“But maybe Joel with his injuries and things like that, they didn’t want to risk it because we were under pressure. But it shows you faith [in Quansah].”

Matip subs shows centre-back fragility

It wasn’t as though Matip was having an amazing game – although the 100k-a-week man was stepping up well after Virgil van Dijk’s sending off.

But it did seem like a weird move for Klopp to make with Liverpool chasing the game.

The sub has been seen by some as a message from the manager to the Reds owners about their need for a centre-back in the final days of the transfer window. But we don’t think that’s the way Jurgen generally makes in-game decisions.

Joel Matip
Photo by Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images

Instead, it seems likely that Thompson is closer to finding the truth. Matip was probably taken off because he’s not exactly the most reliable fitness-wise.

With Ibrahima Konate already on the treatment table and Van Dijk now picking up a three-game suspension, Liverpool suddenly really need their No.32.

As a result, they absolutely have to give him a rest whenever there’s a chance to. Yesterday may not have been the most obvious time to do that, but it did show the faith Klopp has in Quansah. It also showed that the youngster is capable of stepping in if needed.

Nevertheless, the warning signs are there for Liverpool here. We don’t need a repeat of 2020/21, they have to sign a new centre-back while they still can.

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