Joel Matip situation changes as new Liverpool challenge becomes clear

Joel Matip situation changes as new Liverpool challenge becomes clear

Liverpool Echo Sports·2021-08-09 18:00

Virgil van Dijk may have inevitably hogged the limelight, but he isn't the only Liverpool defender who has had to adapt this summer.The return of the £75million Dutchman has been one of the feelgood storylines of the pre-season schedule, but there are hearty subplots for others in the backline too.Players like Ibrahima Konate, who is still learning the ropes following his £36million switch from RB Leipzig. His maiden taste of the famous Anfield atmosphere will come on Monday night against Osasuna.Players like Joe Gomez, whose eight-month lay-off with injury has been as arduous as his close friend Van Dijk's. He, like the Dutchman, will feel all his hard work has been rewarded when he gets his own welcome reception on Monday.And, of course, Joel Matip, whose own injury history is well known at Anfield.READ MORE: What Harvey Elliott did after the final whistleHaving seen his campaign ended before the start of February last time out, Matip has had his own road to recovery to walk down these past few months.Ninety minutes here at Anfield surely means he is now the frontrunner to be named in the Liverpool team when the action starts for real at Norwich next week.The identity of his partner at this stage is probably less easy to predict, although a full game for Konate in Monday's friendly with Osasuna might offer a big hint.As he tends to do, Matip breezed through proceedings of this entertaining re-opening of Anfield's doors as Liverpool were forced to settle for a draw in a game they largely dominated, particularly in the first half.One particular tussle with Inaki Williams brought the Kop to its feet in the first half as he stood strong against the powerful Athletic frontman to whisk the ball away cleanly near the corner flag.Another crucial interception towards the end of the game stopped the Basque outfit stealing an undeserved victory too as he completed his first 90 minutes since the January defeat to Burnley.A small frustration will be the manner of Athletic's equaliser as Williams slipped a pass through his legs to Oihan Sancet who set up Alex Berrenguer, but it was largely an assured display from Matip on his own Anfield comeback. Sign up for daily Liverpool newsGet all the latest Liverpool breaking news, team news, transfer rumours, injury updates plus analysis of what's next for the Reds.You'll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis every day for FREE! Sign up here - it only takes a few seconds!The addition of Konate and the returns of Gomez and Van Dijk, particularly after such a long time out, have understandably taken the attention as far as Liverpool's centre-backs have gone this summer.And after last season's at-times-farcical situation, it's been a long time since the centre-back department was not the topic of Liverpool discussion.Now, however, the tone of those talks is about to change dramatically. With Van Dijk and Gomez both on the mend, Konate ready to take flight in English football and Matip fit once more, Liverpool are now blessed with the best quartet of defenders in the Premier League.Throw in Nat Phillips for good measure too and Klopp has real strength in depth in a position that had none of either last time out.Now the task is clear for Matip, to continue doing what he did here; completing 90 minutes with minimum fuss and maximum quality. Read MoreRelated ArticlesRead MoreRelated Articles


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