At the beginning of last season, Joel Matip was a nailed-on starter in defense for Liverpool. Since then he’s gone from starter, to having a legitimate shout at being Virgil van Dijk’s partner, to fourth choice center back.
The latest demotion, and probably the most humiliating of the 27-year-old’s Liverpool career, came early this season when Joe Gomez proved himself to be an excellent (arguably the best) option to partner Van Dijk.
Now, there are rumors of Matip leaving the squad, but for now he’s taken the time to reaffirm his place, with a determination to keep fighting.
“Sometimes there are always parts in the game when you are a player and you are not playing that much,” Matip said in an interview.
“Of course that is not what I wished but I have to work hard, learn from it.
”We have a high-quality squad but I think this is good for the team. No-one can rest because there is always pressure from someone in the rest of the squad.”
Regardless of your feelings about Matip (or Klopp’s frustrating insistence on bringing him in to protect a lead late in a game), it’s good that he remains committed to the cause. It would only take one or two injuries for Matip to get a serious run of games this season. Even without injuries, his services will certainly be called upon throughout the busy festive period.
Though, if Gomez, Dejan Lovren, and (ESPECIALLY) Van Dijk could stay healthy, that would be great.