Joel Matip Barcelona move unthinkable as Liverpool man prepares to answer call


Joel Matip has been linked with a move to Barcelona but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is relying on the defender to step up

Joel Matip.

In a season where seemingly anything can and will happen, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

That came earlier in the week when reports in Spain suggested Barcelona were considering bolstering their defensive resources with a January move for Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip.

Not that the Cameroonian isn't capable of performing at Camp Nou. Indeed, his commanding display in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against the Spaniards in 2019 perhaps went a long way to explaining their interest.

But with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez facing a battle to be fit again this season, Matip has now been elevated as Liverpool's senior - and, in fact, only - available recognised centre-back.

The Reds granting his departure in the New Year is unthinkable, even if reinforcements are brought in. Not when so much could now rest on the defender's shoulders, starting with Sunday evening's visit of Premier League leaders Leicester City.

With Matip having recently missed five games with a muscle problem and totalled only three top-flight starts in 13 months, Liverpool will no doubt look to ease the workload on the 29-year-old where possible.

But in terms of talent, Jurgen Klopp is in no doubt Matip can answer the call and become a defensive fulcrum once more.

"Since he has been with us he has been pretty much incredible," says the Liverpool boss. "That's why we signed him.

"Unbelievable how good he is. Yes, he was unlucky with injuries. Before he signed for us, he pretty much played for Schalke through four or five or six years, then when he gets here he is unlucky.

"They have all been different injuries. The last injury he got, somebody had cut his tendon on his toe by swishing on it, again an Everton game last season.

"Then he's out again and he looks vulnerable, but it's just something everybody would have suffered in exactly the same situation.

"Now he is back and hopefully for a long time. Is it the best moment of his career? I don't know. But I'm really happy with the moment he's had for the last four years here."

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