When he’s been fit, it’s been clear that Joël Matip is Liverpool’s first choice centre half. So far, though, the defender has uncharacteristically struggled on that front since making the move to England from Germany’s Schalke. Sometimes, he admits, it’s a situation that’s left him feeling more fan than player.
“Every time they score and I’m watching on TV, I’m celebrating,” the 25-year-old Bochum native told the club’s official website. “I really feel like a fan [but] when I was on the field it was much better—even just to stand on the field and not have the ball. My mood gets much better just standing on the field.”
Most Liverpool fans would likely say that their moods improve when Matip is on the pitch, too, and along with the return from injury of Philippe Coutinho and the return of Sadio Mané from the Africa Cup of Nations, that the club have three of their key players back is cause for hope after a mid-season slump.
Facing fixture congestion, injury, and international call-ups exposed just how thin this Liverpool side is. Before that, though, the autumn had shown just how good a side they can be when everyone is fit. Now, once again, everyone is fit. All of Liverpool’s key players are available. Moods are, for good reason, improving.
“It’s not good for the mood because every player wants to play and be fit,” Matip added. “It was not the worst injury so you can’t say everything is rubbish, but I’m on a good way and I hope it will be a long time until my next injury.”