16 Feb 2016

'Top-Class': Klopp reveals 7 reasons for signing 'excellent' £50k-a-week star. Big concerns over pace/strength issues?

On Monday, Liverpool confirmed the signing of Schalke star Joel Matip, and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has now explained exactly why he signed the 24-year old central defender.

In an interview today, Klopp hailed Matip's 'real quality' and outline 7 reasons why he decided to sign the Cameroon international:

* An 'experienced top-class centre-half'.

* 'Physically strong [and] really tall'

* Quick, flexible and 'good in technical things'.

* Ability to play in 'different systems, with four or three defenders'.

* Scores goals - 'four or five per season minimum'.

* Good in 'one-on-one' situations.

* Capable of coming straight into the team and helping LFC 'immediately'.

Klopp's assessment appear to conflict with Sky Sports' German football expert Kristian Sommer, who made the following claims about Matip this week:

"Matip lacks physical presence and is not that strong compared to other centre-halves at Schalke. His major weakness used to be that he is not the quickest, but he always made that up because of excellent positional play".

Well, going all the way back to Ron Yeats, and Tommy Smith, then onto Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen, and Mark Lawrenson, Liverpool have never really had defenders with great pace, so that aspect of his game is not a major issue.

In the Premier League era, the likes of Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Skrtel, and Agger were not the fastest, but compensated in other areas. The same applies to the likes of Kompany, Terry et al - great defenders, but not the quickest.

That said, if Matip lacks physical strength and pace, then that will obviously be a problem in the Premier League, but when it comes to Bundesliga players, I think it's safe to defer to Klopp's first-hand experience.

Klopp also claims that Matip can make an immediate impact for Liverpool, and hopefully that'll be the case. However, after the club's defensive failures over the last few seasons, the pressure on Matip will be immense, just as it was for Lovren.

Some fans/pundits/ex-Reds had unrealistic expectations of Lovren, and expected him to immediately solve the club's defensive problems. He buckled under the pressure, though, and fans quickly got on the Croatian's back, and labelled him a transfer failure.

If Matip doesn't hit the ground running, and makes several mistakes in his first few games (and/or the team still ships goals), he will inevitably receive the same treatment. Hopefully, he's mentally strong enough to deal with the weight of expectation.

Author: Jaimie K


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