Jurgen Klopp is clearly over the moon with Joel Matip’s new long-term deal – and sang the Cameroonian’s praises this afternoon following confirmation of the news.
The 28-year-old, who arrived in 2016 on a Bosman from Schalke, was a key part of Liverpool’s Champions League winning side last term and has started this season in stupendous form.
Matip has established himself as a starter in Klopp’s first-XI ahead of the incredibly talented Joe Gomez and World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren.
We’d suggest that he and Virgil van Dijk may be the world’s best central defensive pairing, in fact.
“Joel’s journey at Liverpool is one I love and I am absolutely delighted he has shown his commitment to us by signing this new long-term contract,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“As the team has evolved and become better, so too has Joel.
“I said earlier this year that signing a player of his quality is one of the best, incredible pieces of business we’ve done since I started here – and I think now that’s something everyone can see.
“I knew what he was capable of from seeing him up close in the Bundesliga and we were certain he could bring that performance level to us.
“Of course, it is not easy for any player coming to the Premier League, let alone coming to a club the size of Liverpool, so maybe in the beginning there were some questions externally about his consistency. But not anymore.
“Joel has been operating as a world-class centre-half throughout this year and long may it continue.
“I haven’t seen many in his position performing with the consistency and quality he has been.
“Obviously here at Liverpool, we’re very lucky to have not only him, but also Virg, Dejan and Joe in the position. I’m fortunate to be able to pick from such outstanding talent.
“Off the pitch, Joel is one of the nicest, most humble guys you could wish to meet, but on it he is a fighter, someone who gives everything to try to help the team get the victory. He has a winner’s mentality.
“He loves what he is doing and for us to have him here for even longer is perfect for us all.”
There was a point when Matip looked vulnerable to crosses sent into the box, but van Dijk has clearly helped him grow.
Klopp always claims players will improve under his guidance and Matip has done exactly that.
His transformation this calendar year has been incredible, actually.
To celebrate, a clean-sheet on Sunday v Manchester United will do nicely.
A win will confirm we remain eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table – or more if Manchester City slip at Crystal Palace.