Joel Matip looks set to spend some time on the sidelines following an ongoing knee problem which appears to have been aggravated.
The centre-half wasn’t deemed fit enough to play against Spurs at the weekend, with Jurgen Klopp opting to go with Dejan Lovren in his place, and it now seems the 28-year-old won’t be back until Christmas.
Missing Matip for the best part of six weeks is a massive blow – the Cameroonian defender has arguably been one of Klopp’s best performers since the latter stages of last season.
According to Evening Standard, Joel Matip could be out for as long as six weeks after facing yet another injury blow. The Liverpool defender was slowly returning to full fitness before his recovery was halted, and he could now face an extended spell on the sidelines. While this is bad news for Klopp, it opens the door for the likes of Joe Gomez and Lovren to stake their claims for a starting XI berth.
Who gets the nod between Lovren and Joe Gomez?
Matip has missed three games this season, two of which came in the club’s last three matches. In both the occasions Dejan Lovren has been the one to deputise for the Reds.
The ex-Southampton star has become a forgotten figure at Liverpool due to the exploits of Matip and Virgil van Dijk, as a result, he notably made only 13 Premier League appearances last season (Transfermarkt). He did, however, struggle with a pelvis as well as a hamstring injury that restricted his overall game-time.
But the Croatian international will have an excellent opportunity to redeem himself due to the prolonged absence of Matip due to injury. Although Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in neither of the two matches they have played with Lovren this season, his contribution in defence was useful as the Reds secured a narrow win over Spurs.
That being said, it’s also an opportunity for the young Joe Gomez to become a more prominent part of the Liverpool backline. Hence, it will be interesting to see who starts more often within the coming weeks.
A warning shot for Liverpool?
Matip and Lovren’s recent struggles with injuries are a clear indication that it’s time for Liverpool to add some depth to their defensive department. And with the January transfer window just around the corner, the Reds should look to sign at least one defender who can provide backup for the likes of Lovren and Matip.
It’s also essential that the new defender can be recognised as a long-term prospect, given the fact that Liverpool need to prepare for the future one way or another. Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu is an intriguing target, although Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou might not be a bad option either.
But one thing is for certain – Klopp should not plan with Lovren for the long-term while Gomez alone won’t make a difference. Hence, the arrival of a new centre-back in the upcoming January transfer window might be imperative as the Reds look to strengthen their squad further.
Matip’s injury can never be a good thing for the team, but it is perhaps a chance for Gomez to reclaim his spot in the starting XI – especially with rumours growing that he’s not happy at Liverpool.