A football playing centre back. Powerful, leader, aggressive, great in the air, with a superior way of reading the game, spreading a calming presence throughout the defence. All words over the years used to describe the Kop favourite Daniel Agger and the same words that Joël Matip would love to be described as. Ever since Agger’s departure, Liverpool have lacked that calmness and ability to play out from the back. It takes real guts and confidence to be able to float past players in front of your own goal and as we’re well aware can often be playing with fire, with the back four coming unstuck once too many times. Though Agger’s Anfield career was often hampered by injuries only averaging 26 games a season, while on the pitch always had a great mix of class, desire and of course a peach of a left foot. How we could do with these qualities in the squad once more.
This might well be a reality with New arrival Joël Matip, only 25 years old yet vastly experienced, making 259 appearances in the German Bundesliga scoring on 24 occasions. Similar to Agger, who managed 21 in 232 during his time at Liverpool. Matip seems to also have an eye for goal not only ariel threats from set pieces but real composed striking, as he’s shown for Schalke 04. He’s Champions League tested also having played a pivotal role for Schalke 04 in the 2010/11 campaign, not losing a single group match and making it to the semifinals. Considering he’s still young and has racked up 44 appearances in European football and 11 caps for Cameroon,this fills me with optimism that Jürgen Klopp’s determined move for Matip could benefit Liverpool for years to come.
Lets hope the annoying clangers of last season like the Watford rout, not seeing the game out against Southampton and drawing games, slowly become a thing of the past as our centre back duo look to really push on. After the Never ending Sakho situation it looks like Lovren and Matip are hoping to be the main pairing this season. Matip told the Echo:”I really enjoyed playing along side Dejan, he’s a very good player. I hope we can have a good partnership together. I think there’s a good understanding there already, at times I covered him, at times he covered me. We played together at the start of pre-season so I think it will be good.” Although I’m sure Ragnar Klavan might have different ideas. Matip had a great debut against Burton Albion, looking dominant in our box, calmly feeding the midfield with neat passing and read the game well to clear a goal-line chance towards the end of the 5-0 drumming.With respect to Burton there lies much sterner tests ahead but a confident debut clean sheet is exactly what was needed.
To compare Matip with Agger is of course jumping to conclusions, but he’s already played at the highest level, under the highest pressure. He’s won more headers (117) and more tackles (44) than any Liverpool player last season. Not forgetting he made the Bundesliga team of the year and of course the odd bit of magic, not dissimilar to Daniel Agger….enjoy!
Hard tackles, intelligent runs, great vision/ distribution and formidable in the air. A classy centre back is not a easy find, just look what Manchester city have paid for a play it out from the back defender in John Stones after years of throwing millions at players. All the sweeter that Matip came in on a free and has all the makings of a Anfield hero. To match Agger’s status is some ask, but show that same elegance, commitment, honour and the Anfield faithful will adore him.
Good luck Joël! Here’s a teaser of what we’ve hopefully got to come. YNWA
Written by Ben Webb