Liverpool academy graduate Rhys Williams has waxed lyrical about Joel Matip, deeming him similar to Virgil van Dijk in some ways.
The Cameroon defender joined Liverpool in the summer of 2016 after leaving Schalke, and has made 120 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Matip was instrumental in helping the Reds win the Champions League in 2019, making eight starts in that year’s competition and registering an assist in the final.
Although the 29-year-old was sidelined for much of the 2019-20 campaign, his eight appearances in the Premier League ensured he qualified for a winner’s medal.
And this season, Matip has made nine appearances in all competitions as Liverpool remain in the hunt for a second consecutive top-flight title and the Champions League.
Williams, who partnered Matip at centre-back against Atalanta, spoke to the Reds media team about his fellow central defenders.
“Joel is a great talker,” the 19-year-old said about Matip. “He’s similar to Virg in some ways with the way he is on the ball, he picks a great pass as well.
“I think he’s a great aerial threat off corners, not a lot beats him, so I’ve tried to take a bit of that into my game because sometimes my positioning off corners, I could be a bit more front foot and attack it – I’ve seen that’s what he’s been doing.
“I’m enjoying playing next to him. He talks a great game as well, so that helps.”
Matip is a superb defender who is rightly being recognised by his teammates for his class and hard work.
With Van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined long-term, there’s a lot of pressure on Matip’s shoulders, as the club’s only fit senior centre-back, at present.
Luckily for him, the likes of Williams and Nathaniel Phillips, not to mention Fabinho – a midfielder by trade – have eased some of the burden on him.