Klopp fi­nally gets his man

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

SCHALKE — Reds boss Jur­gen Klopp is set to land the cen­tre-back of whom he’s long been a mas­sive fan.

It’s not much of a sur­prise that Jur­gen Klopp has planned a foray into the Ger­man mar­ket and sign Schalke’s Joel Matip — the tough de­fender who turned down Ger­many and de­cided to play for his father’s home­land Cameroon.

Good value, good play­ers with Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence are ideal for his An­field rev­o­lu­tion.

The first of those will be Matip from Schalke. Klopp knows the Ger­man-born Matip well from his nine years with Schalke and he has been an ever-present for the Bun­desliga side this sea­son.

The 24-year-old was ex­pected to an­nounce his de­par­ture on Fri­day last week, hav­ing re­jected a new deal in Gelsenkirchen and he’s now all set to join Liverpool ahead of a sum­mer move to Eng­land.

Here is ev­ery­thing you need to know about the de­fender.

Back­ground Ger­man-born to a Ger­man mother and Cameroo­nian father, Matip is re­garded as one of Schalke’s own breed. He has been as­so­ci­ated with the club for more than 15 years of his life and in this part of Ger­many, play­ers with the same club iden­tity means ev­ery­thing to the club.

It isn’t an over-ex­ag­ger­a­tion to sug­gest that Matip is one of the main fan fa­vorites at the Veltins Arena.

Suc­cess, un­sur­pris­ingly, has been hard to come by at Schalke.

De­spite boast­ing the sec­ond­high­est num­ber of club mem­bers in Ger­many, the club has strug­gled to task to re­ju­ve­nate the club.

Mean­while, Spurs have suf­fered so many false dawns that even their most ar­dent fans had long given up hope of their team ever win­ning the league ti­tle but Sun­day vic­tory at Manch­ester City has changed all that. mount a chal­lenge to Bay­ern Mu­nich in the last decade. Fa­mously, they were cham­pi­ons for four min­utes in 2001, long be­fore Matip’s Bun­desliga de­but in 2009.

But he has solid ex­pe­ri­ence of Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion, mak­ing 44 ap­pear­ances in his time at Schalke. In 2011, he was a core first-team player as the Royal Blues reached the semi-fi­nals of the tour­na­ment, los­ing to Manch­ester United. A year later, Schalke reached the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Europa League.

Matip’s con­tract has been a talk­ing point for some­time af­ter ex­tend­ing in 2012 - a Jan­uary move to New­cas­tle didn’t ma­te­ri­alise.

At in­ter­na­tional level, Matip has been capped 27 times by Cameroon. He made his de­but un­der for­mer Lyon and Rangers coach Paul Le Guen at the age of 18.

Ger­many’s then Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor Matthias Sam­mer - now with Bay­ern - made in­roads to se­cure his in­ter­na­tional fu­ture, but he was in­stead con­vinced to the coun­try of his father Jean’s birth.

He has ap­peared at an African Cup of Na­tions and also two World Cup’s - the first, in 2010, at the age of 18.

Matip is per­haps a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent play­ers; he has power, speed and tech­ni­cal qual­ity. The clos­est com­par­i­son with a cur­rent top de­fender is ar­guably Bay­ern’s Me­hdi Be­na­tia.

With the right de­vel­op­ment, he could be a top cen­tral de­fender, one that would have been an as­set to Klopp’s Reds.

Matip’s height is an ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage. He tow­ers over most of his op­po­nents, and that aerial dom­i­nance should help him adapt to life

Spurs’ tri­umph at the Eti­had Sta­dium, where they had lost on their last five vis­its, moved them within two points of Premier League lead­ers Le­ices­ter City and kept them in se­cond place above Arse­nal on goal dif­fer­ence with 12 matches to play. in the Premier League.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he has par­tic­u­larly rangy strides which make up for any is­sues over pace. When he’s in flow, he’s as quick as most cen­tre­for­wards. He doesn’t look par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful, but he’s strong in the tackle.

This sea­son, Matip has been one of Schalke’s strong­est per­form­ers.

He’s cut down on mis­takes and turned in per­for­mances when it mat­tered. He’s reg­u­larly the man on the end of crosses into the Schalke box and along with goal­keeper Ralf Fährmann are the two stal­warts of An­dre Bre­it­en­re­iter’s de­fen­sive unit.

Yet de­spite his im­prove­ments men­tally, he can still be caught sleep­ing on the odd oc­ca­sion - it’s a bit of a prob­lem when you’re a cen­tre-back who will go on rash charges up the pitch.

What will be en­cour­ag­ing to Liverpool fans is that there are no stand­out weak­nesses. He’s a good foot­baller on top of his solid de­fen­sive traits.

How will he fit into his new

team If Klopp has his way, he wants ag­gres­sive and proac­tive de­fend­ers.

Mats Hum­mels em­bod­ied all of the de­fen­sive char­ac­ter­is­tics un­der the for­mer Dort­mund coach and has be­come a pretty unique com­mod­ity in Euro­pean foot­ball.

Matip’s long strides will be ideal at cut­ting out long-balls over the top and he’s the kind of de­fender who wants to in­ter­cept rather than af­ford the striker room to move.

Did you know Joel is not the only Matip on the Bun­desliga cir­cuit. His brother Marvin plays for FC In­gol­stadt and is con­sid­ered as one of the best de­fend­ers in the league this sea- son by pop­u­lar Ger­man mag­a­zine “Kicker”.

Some­thing must run in the fam­ily, then. — .mir­ror.co.uk

Joel Matip.

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