As Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho continue to struggle with injuries, Liverpool’s interest in Joel Matip could be the answer to their defensive frailties.
Fantasy Football game www.oulala.com have compared Matip’s stats this season to both Lovren and Sakho.
With Martin Skrtel out injured for the foreseeable future and having conceded nine goals in their last six Premier League matches, many agree that Liverpool need to invest in a solid centre-back.
Matip’s current contract with FC Schalke 04 runs out at the end of the season and he has reportedly turned down a new deal with the club.
Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has described Sakho as a “nightmare waiting to happen”.
In the wake of Liverpool’s most recent Premier League defeat away to West Ham, Alan Shearer has been vocal about the the pairing’s performances. In his column on the Sun, the former Newcastle United man wrote that many of the “players Jurgen Klopp inherited are simply not good enough”.
He continued: “Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho are not a centre-back pairing that would have scared me as a striker”.
Matip could offer the solidity and consistency at the back that the Reds have so far missed. The German born Cameroonian international triumphs both Lovren and Sakho in five out of Oulala’s seven stats on show.
Matip has an average of 3.1 interceptions per game compared to just 1.7 and 1.6 for Lovren and Sakho respectively. Matip also leads the duo in terms of tackles won per game (1.12 to 1.07 and 0.91).
The only stat where Lovren is superior to Matip is in clearances per game (6.9 to 6.8). Similarly the only stat where Sakho betters the current Schalke centre-back is in successful passes per game (48.8 to 42.2).
Vitally, Oulala’s stats show that Matip has an impressive amount of aerial duels won with an average of 3.1 per game or 60 in total. Lovren and Sakho have won 46 and 35 aerial duels respectively. Should Liverpool manage to bag the 24-year-old, it could solve their aerial struggles. Both of West Ham’s goal against Liverpool came from crosses. Klopp has recently bemoaned Liverpool’s inability to deal with aerial balls stating: ‘Now you can say we have an issue with crosses — before, we had an issue with set plays. It is always a ball in the air’.