Liverpool have confirmed the signing of the Cameroonian international Joel Matip on a free transfer. Jürgen Klopp convinced the centre-back to sign a contract with the club beginning on June 1st until the summer of 2020.
Matip began his career at the German club SC Weitmar before moving to Vfl Bochum in the 2nd Bundesliga. The Cameroonian international developed in the VFL Bochum academy before his big move to Schalke 04. He started to evolve in Schalke’s youth academy “Die Knappenschmiede” and played for their U23s in the Regionalliga – at that time the third division in German football. He made his professional debut in 2009 and scored just a month later against Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich.
Matip featured in 20 games in the 2009/10 season mostly as a defensive midfielder. In the following seasons he started to develop into a first team centre-back.
As his career progressed Matip has worked his way up to become one of the Bundesliga’s most promising central defenders. In a partnership with Benedikt Höwedes he played in around 250 games for the Royal Blues.
This season the Cameroonian scored four goals and assisted three others in his 26 games. He started in 21 Bundesliga fixtures and features in WhoScored’s Bundesliga team of the season.
The 24-year-old has played every minute of every game for Schalke this season. He blocked 19 shots, more than any of his future team mates, which will take some pressure of the Liverpool goalkeeper.
One of his biggest strengths is his physicality, with Matip standing at 6ft 4 and very strong. Therefore he is a great ball-winner on the ground and in the air. Matip has won 75% out of his aerial duels and succeeds in 3.3 aerial battles per game. This could be crucial following the recent struggles defending set pieces. He has decent pace as well and intercepts 3.2 balls per game, more than any of Liverpool’s current centre-backs.
In regards to his passing abilities, Matip has completed more passes than any other Schalke player with an 83% pass completion rate. In addition he plays around 20 key pass per season which supports that he can play in defensive midfield.
Joel Matip seems to be a long term answer to the centre-back problems of the Merseyside club. With Mamadou Sakho as a fan favourite and Dejan Lovren gaining confidence it seems like Matip will battle one of these two for a CB spot in the summer. It take a little time to settle in the Premier League, but adding a defender of his quality for reasonable wages is an outstanding move by FSG.
A report by our German correspondent Sefendo