From one fan favorite to another, ex-Red and Danish masterpiece, Daniel Agger, has heaped praise on Joël Matip after an impressive first season at Liverpool. Matip had plenty of interruptions to his flow during the course of the campaign but still managed to make thirty-one appearances, see the club into the top-four and even score his first goal for the club along the way.
“I think he did well,” said Agger. “The first season is always tough, not only for defenders but any Premier League player.
“Playing your first season in the Premier League you have to adapt. Some do it quicker than others.”
If Matip needed any time to adjust to the league, he did a great job of hiding it. Straight out of the gate the German defender brought an easy confidence to Liverpool’s back line.
Matip’s calmness on the ball is his most striking attribute. Like Dagger before him, Joël easily glides forward out from the back to push the team up the pitch. He is good in the air, quick to react and can pick a cutting pass from the halfway line. Defensively, Liverpool were always more composed over the season when Matip was in the back. Dejan Lovren, Lucas Leiva and Ragnar Klavan all had better days when they were paired with the ex-Schalke defender.
“His first season has definitely been good,” Agger said, “and I think he can be happy with that.”
Supporters will always hope for more more more from their team’s players but Agger cautions that real progress is a steady climb.
“To play for Liverpool you need to be consistent and that’s something you can see after a few seasons.”
Joël Matip is the future of the Liverpool defense. He and (dare I say it) Virgil van Dijk would be a formidable defensive duo for years should that deal sprout legs again. But for Matip, a strong, debut season elicits respect from his teammates and relieves the pressure of expectation going into 2017-18, no matter who he partners at the back.