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Klopp claims ‘outstanding’ Liverpool man Matip has case for being ‘best’ signing of his type

Joel Matip has a claim to be the best free signing, according to his Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been impressed by his form this season.

Injury issues have often plagued Matip during his time with Liverpool so far. He joined them on a free transfer in 2016 after leaving Schalke. He reached 100 appearances for the club within three years, but then the setbacks started.

Matip only made nine Premier League appearances when Liverpool won the title in the 2019-20 season. Then, last term, he was one of three members of Klopp’s backline to miss the majority of the second half of the campaign through injury.

While the former Cameroon international was out, it was thought his fellow defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez – both on the treatment tables at the same time – would be the starting pair upon their returns this year.

The summer signing of Ibrahima Konate further complicated Matip’s prospects. However, he has surprisingly been given the nod alongside van Dijk more than Konate or Gomez yet this season. The 30-year-old has started 17 Premier League matches, compared to Konate’s seven and Gomez’s zero.

Asked if Matip remains available in view of the game between Liverpool and Leicester on Thursday, Klopp replied (via the Echo): “He’s absolutely top.

“We had too many centre-backs injured in the last few years. Never their fault.

Matip labelled as ‘outstanding’

“We beat Napoli one year and Matip broke a bone, so yes, life without luck is difficult. I hope we stay more lucky than we were last few years. Long may it continue.

“He is an outstanding player. People talk about the best free signings as a transfer, I can imagine it would be a close race between Joel and Millie [James Milner].”

Matip’s availability forms part of what Klopp hopes will be a fully-fit squad – or at least as close to one as he can remember since the summer.

He said: “It should be. We had a full squad in August? I cannot remember any time that happened, so I don’t speak about it too much.

“Hendo [Jordan Henderson] has a little bit of a back problem from the last game and Sadio [Mane] is not here – but these are not long-term. It’s not…

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