Joel Matip: The view from Germany on Liverpool's new Schalke signing
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 19/02/16 12:11pm
It's fair to say Jurgen Klopp was delighted to complete a deal to bring Schalke centre-back Joel Matip to Liverpool this summer.
The Cameroon international will switch to Anfield on a free transfer at the end of the season, when his contract with the German club runs out.
"I'm very happy," said the Reds boss. "Everybody who knows him would have been interested."
However, Klopp conceded Matip was "not the most famous player in England", despite playing over 150 Bundesliga games for Schalke.
To find out more about Liverpool's new signing, we caught up with Sky reporters in Germany Dirk große Schlarmann and Torben Hoffmann - who both insist Matip can thrive under Klopp's coaching.
"He is a good defender. He's young and will make the next step under Jurgen Klopp," Hoffmann told Sky Sports.
"He's not currently at the level of the best defenders in Germany, such as Mats Hummels or Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber or Javi Martinez. But after these top guys he's in the next group.
"The big point is Jurgen has known him for five or six years, has played a lot against Schalke, and knows his strengths. It's a good decision."
This season he made a big step and reached another stage in his development. Now he is the boss in the defence.
Dirk große Schlarmann
Schlarmann agrees and says, after a season in which Matip has taken on the role of leader of the Schalke defence, the centre-back is rapidly improving.
"This season he made a big step and reached another stage in his development," Schlarmann said. "He got a lot of responsibility because of injuries to Matija Nastasic and Benedikt Howedes. Now he is the boss in the defence.
"He has also moved into the top 10 defenders in the Bundesliga and has potential for further development."
Both point out Matip is just as comfortable playing in midfield as in defence and Hoffmann says the 24-year-old will be an improvement on current Liverpool centre-backs Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho when it comes to distribution.
"He plays very good passes - he can do short passes and long crosses," said Hoffmann. "That will be good for the play from defence to midfield or direct to the striker. I think it will be an advance on Toure or Sakho, for example."
Hoffmann also believes Matip could be a solution to Liverpool's recurring problems with defending set-pieces.
At 6ft 4in, the Cameroon international is dominant in the air - a bonus in both boxes.
"He's tall and he's scored a lot from corner-kicks and free-kicks," said Hoffmann. "He's a very good header of the ball, in the defence and also in the offence."
If there's one area where Matip can improve, it's communication - Schlarmann describes Matip as "a conservative guy, not known for talking much" - but it seems Schalke are sorry to see him go, especially on a free transfer.
"It's really hard for Schalke because he's young, has potential and they do not get any money for him," said Schlarmann. "He is better than their other centre-backs, Howedes and Nastasic."
Schalke's loss will be Liverpool's gain, though. And the view from Germany is the Reds appear to have landed themselves a bargain.
Do you think Joel Matip will be a success at Liverpool? Let us know using the message boards or by tweeting @SkyFootball