Joel Matip

 

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Joel Matip

Image from: zimbio.com

Joel Matip

Current Club: Liverpool.
Previous Clubs: Schalke 04, Vfl Bochum (youth teams), SC Weitmar (youth teams).
Loan Clubs: None.

International: Cameroon 27 caps 1 goal.
Trophies Won: German Cup 2011.

Jurgen Klopp moved to sign Joel Matip on a free transfer after taking the time to look over his defensive options at Liverpool. Matip was seen as the ball playing centre half to replicate the kind of system he had at Borussia Dortmund with Mats Hummels. It is easy to see why his on the ball play is so highly rated, especially his bringing the ball out from the back, when he is like a Bentley, smoothly powering forward at pace, seemingly without effort moving past opponents. Matip also has a very good range of passing and a calmness on the ball that allows the team to play the ball around at the back.

Unfortunately the rest of his game is not to the same level. While he moves at a good lick with the ball at his feet, when asked to chase back after an attacker that has got in behind him, that pace vanishes and he looks like he is running in quicksand. That is when he even bothers to run back, as he regularly gets caught out of position moving forward to make a challenge in the opposition half and then strolls back like it is a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park. No signs of urgency, it is like he gives up on the play.



Defensively he lacks any awareness, players can run off his shoulder without a problem or inbetween him and his teammate next to him. In fact, other than on the ball it is difficult to find any positives about Matip's ability, at least in the English leagues, as he is too weak, not good enough in the air, positionally dodgy and too slow, both to react and to act. His abilities would probably be much more useful in a slower paced league, in a team which does not look to hold a high line exposing his lack of pace to balls in behind.

Matip is like two players in one, on the ball he is excellent, one of the better defenders in world football at carrying the ball out of defence, quick, strong with a good eye for a pass. Off the ball he is nonchalant, he is unaware of what is going on around him, he has the pace of an asthmatic tortoise running up a steep hill carrying twice its body weight on its back and weak. While it does make him look like he just is not bothered when it comes to tracking back, I am beginning to wonder if it is the opposite. On the ball he is so smooth and effortless when he moves, because he is busy thinking about the ball and what he is going to do about it. Off the ball he does not have that to think about and his running style is tense, giving him the appearance of running in quick drying cement just as it hardens.

Written by Tris Burke


 




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