Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has suggested the signing of Joel Matip was “maybe the best free signing ever in world football.”
Matip took a while to get to his very best when he joined the Reds 6 years ago, but he is now widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs.
Last season, he was Virgil van Dijk’s main partner at the back in league matches, fending off competition from Ibrahima Konaté and Joe Gomez.
The Cameronian’s work on the ball was particularly eye-catching.
Matip was regularly seen fearlessly driving forward from defense and consequently creating dangerous attacking scenarios for his team.
But whether he’s the best “free signing ever” is up for debate. The claim Pep Lijnders made on The Coaches’ Voice was certainly a bold one.
Matip’s teammate James Milner might have something to say about that too.
Milner joined the Reds back in 2015 and has since made 290 appearances for the Anfield club.
He continues to ply his trade in Klopp’s side impressively as a 36-year-old.
But Ljinders’ praise of Matip isn’t outlandish.
The 30-year-old started Saturday’s Community Shield clash with Manchester City, and he doesn’t look like he’ll be losing his spot on any time soon.
Joe Gomez has of course signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool and taken the no. 2 shirt, but Matip remains ahead of him in the Reds’ centre-back pecking order.
And if he helps to guide Liverpool to their second Premier League title under Jürgen Klopp this season, few will be able to argue over whether Matip’s lengthy spell on Merseyside has been a successful one.