Liverpool have recently signed Schalke defender Joel Matip. The German-born Cameroon international will join on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Liverpool’s new signing is a product of the celebrated Schalke academy. Matip joins Julian Draxler, Manuel Neuer, Max Meyer, Mesut Ozil and Benedikt Howedes as just some of their academy products. He joined Schalke in 2000 at the age of 9 and has been at the club ever since. Matip made his debut for the first team in October 2009 against 1. FC Saarbrücken, going on to become an valuable player in the Schalke defence.
Matip was helped to become a more established defender working alongside Benedikt Howedes. The German international helped Matip to become more defensive aware and improve co-ordination. Matip has excellent positioning and leadership qualities Jurgen Klopp likes his players to have. When you look at the defenders Klopp had at Dortmund – Hummels and Subotic – these players had the same qualities.
Matip is a clever player on the ball, because of this he can play as a defensive midfielder as well as a centre-back. He provides build-up play from the back and he often likes to get forward himself, Matip has scored 23 times in total for Schalke – a very good goal rate for a defender. He has made around 200 Bundesliga games, he’s played in the Champions League, Europa League and was a German Cup winner in 2011.
Klopp was clearly happy with his new signing as he recently said “He’s become a really experienced centre-half – tall at 1.98m, but flexible and quick. A perfect header of the ball, he scores four or five goals a season, and is good in the build-up. “You should watch him on YouTube.”
Matip was born in Germany but he chose to represent Cameroon – where his father is from. He was 18 at the time of his decision in 2010 and Matip described it as a ‘gut feeling’. With his talent he would be an automatic starter for Cameroon, but at Germany would have face much stiffer competition for places with the likes of Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber. Matip played two games for Cameroon at the 2014 World Cup, scoring against hosts Brazil.
Jurgen Klopp will be wanting to put his own stamp on the Liverpool team with some players under-performing. Liverpool’s centre-backs haven’t been at the level of quality Klopp would expect and Matip will just be the beginning of new signings arriving at Anfield this summer.