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Liverpool could have lastly discovered secret to holding Matip match

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It’s mid-November, and Joel Matip has already performed extra minutes than within the earlier two seasons. So might Liverpool have lastly cracked the code to the defender’s health?

In his first months as Liverpool supervisor, Jurgen Klopp assessed his centre-back choices and concluded, together with the membership’s recruitment workers, {that a} new first-choice starter was required.

Marko Grujic could have been the primary signing of the Klopp period, however Matip, who made a pre-contract settlement with the Reds lower than a month after the Serbian’s arrival, was the primary designed to step into the senior setup.

After 16 years with Schalke, the German-born Cameroon worldwide joined Liverpool on a free switch – a deal which Klopp considers one in all his most interesting.

However whereas solely 12 gamers have made extra appearances for Klopp since he took over at Anfield in 2015, Matip ought to be even larger on the checklist than his 136 video games positions him.

Accidents have plagued his time on Merseyside, with ankle, thigh, hamstring and collarbone points holding him from breaking the 40-game mark in every of his first three campaigns, whereas the issues solely elevated the following two seasons.

Quickly after signing a brand new contract with the membership in 2019, Matip suffered a long-term knee damage that noticed him lose his place to Joe Gomez, whereas his comeback was derailed when he minimize a tendon in his toe.

Final season, thigh, again and groin accidents added to the long-term absences of Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, earlier than an ankle challenge ended his season in January.

Weighing up the blow of dropping all three of Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip, many supporters got here to the conclusion that if any of the three have been to be sacrificed in favour of long-term stability, it could be the No. 32.

However up to now this time period, Matip has arguably been Liverpool’s greatest centre-back and, crucially, is defying perceptions over his health.

Now mid-November, the 30-year-old has already clocked extra minutes on the pitch (1,125) than within the entirety of the 2019/20 (1,015) and 2020/21 (866) seasons.

With 13 appearances, of which 11 have come as a starter, Matip has already equalled his tally from two seasons in the past and surpassed that of the marketing campaign simply gone.

Virgil van Dijk with Joel Matip (Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith)

All through Klopp’s squad, solely 4 gamers – Jordan Henderson (1,159), Alisson (1,260), Van Dijk (1,260) and Mohamed Salah (1,321) – have been on the pitch longer than the Bosman from Bochum.

So what’s the secret? Have Liverpool lastly discovered the important thing to holding Matip match?

It might be untimely to counsel that’s the case, significantly given the experiences of seasons gone, however the knowledge signifies that he has returned from his layoff stronger.

The explanations for this are assorted, however having gone into the Reds’ title defence with solely three senior centre-backs after Dejan Lovren‘s departure to Zenit St Petersburg, Klopp was clever to ascertain a five-strong group this time round.

Ibrahima Konate is undoubtedly being nurtured as a long-term starter, however as he adjusts to life at Liverpool, the function of gifted stand-in helps get the most effective out of the participant he shall be hoping to supplant.

Matip is but to overlook a sport via damage up to now this season, and in every of the 4 video games he has sat out, Konate has began in his place.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté (L) and Curtis Jones (R) celebrate after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Essentially the most shocking name got here because the Frenchman partnered Van Dijk for the journey to Man United, with Klopp explaining his determination as he spoke to Sky Sports activities earlier than the sport.

“Ibou is coaching on the best stage. After all, Joel is a good participant, however we can’t simply push him via on a regular basis,” the supervisor stated.

“We noticed a couple of issues the place we thought this might be an excellent sport for Ibou, now he begins alongside Virgil and the opposite guys, and hopefully he’ll have an excellent sport.”

There stay flaws in Konate’s sport, however he definitely impressed that night at Previous Trafford as Liverpool cruised to a 5-0 victory.

Three days later and Matip was beginning within the League Cup in opposition to Preston, solely to get replaced at half-time, which led to instant issues of a health downside.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 27, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters as Nathaniel Phillips and Harvey Blair look on after the English Football League Cup 4th Round match between Preston North End FC and Liverpool FC at Deepdale. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Because it transpired, his withdrawal was pre-planned and his substitute, Nat Phillips, emerged as one other invaluable various in a centre-back group that’s a lot more healthy than this time final 12 months.

Having excelled as an emergency possibility final season, Phillips was anticipated to go away the membership in the summertime switch window, however after curiosity from the likes of Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley light, he as a substitute signed a brand new four-year contract.

It was a shock, and that his first look of the marketing campaign got here with the Liverpool under-21s within the Papa John’s Trophy prompt he would barely determine in Klopp’s pondering.

However right here he’s, a dependable fifth alternative and a part of a transparent plan to handle the health of Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip fastidiously after the nightmare that unfolded in 2020/21.

“We’ve got to be wise in these moments. We’ve got these three boys within the final line who all got here again from long-term accidents, we’ve to handle that,” Klopp insisted in September.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 21, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) and Joel Matip after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We will’t do it in a different way, even when they’re match now – which is nice.”

The concept is, with 4 top-level centre-back choices and a serviceable fifth, Liverpool ought to look to utilise all of them and maximise their high quality all through a busy season.

Central to that is the function of Liverpool’s head of restoration and efficiency Dr Andreas Schlumberger, who oversees the workload of every participant and produces particular person programmes to take care of their health.

It’s no coincidence, both, that Lena Aschenbrenner was appointed as prevention and efficiency physiotherapist in July.

The arrivals of Schlumberger and Aschenbrenner are a part of a wider overhaul of Liverpool’s health workers that has taken place all through Klopp’s reign, with Andreas Kornmayer, Mona Nemmer, Lee Nobes, Chris Morgan and Steve Lilley all essential figures.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Their work inside the confines of Kirkby is basically confidential, however the fruits of their labour is displaying within the consistency Matip is discovering in these early months of the season.

Having retired from Cameroon obligation in 2015, his sole focus is on membership issues, which has undoubtedly prolonged the profession of his team-mate James Milner.

And as he heads into an uninterrupted 4 months of fixtures as first-choice associate to Van Dijk, the hope is that Liverpool have lastly discovered the key to holding Matip match.

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