LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 3, 2019: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 233rd Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Perfect attitude from Joel Matip to begin biggest battle for place in Liverpool team

Joel Matip won the battle to be the first-choice partner of Virgil van Dijk last season, but says the fight starts all over again from here.

The start of last term saw Joe Gomez given a chance in the centre and the young defender was nothing short of excellent in the absence of Matip and Dejan Lovren.

He kept his place into winter—but a leg fracture ended his run in the side and gave Matip a chance to stake his own claim.

The Cameroonian went on to produce nothing less than his best-ever form for the Reds, deservedly remaining alongside Van Dijk throughout the title charge and the run to the Champions League final.

There, of course, it was Matip who teed up the match-ending strike for Divock Origi, as Liverpool became Champions of Europe once more.

Many fans feel his consistency and dependability of last season should see Matip start the new campaign in the team once more, but the No. 32 says there are no such guarantees and everyone needs to prove their worth once more.

MADRID, SPAIN - SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2019: Liverpool's Joel Matip (L) and Virgil van Dijk (R) after the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s precisely the attitude that all players should have in the face of competition for places, and the type of outlook Jurgen Klopp will want from his entire squad as they look to challenge for trophies once more.

That mentality is key, Matip told, to ensuring every player pushes the others.

“It was nice to play and have the success, but a new season begins.

“You start new and last season doesn’t matter. You only have to take the things, learn the things from last year, but we all start from new.

“We have a lot of good players. I try to play as much as possible, but we will see.

“Because of this we have a high-quality squad like this. Everyone needs to step in if someone is missing, injured or not in the best shape. We are looking good and I am looking forward to the season.”

There remains a little uncertainty over the future of Lovren, who Matip ousted with his good form and the Croatian’s injuries, but other than that the competition will come from players younger than the 27-year-old.

Gomez (22) will hope to re-earn his place, while Nat Phillips (22) and George Johnston (20) are trying to impress in pre-season. Then there’s the recent addition of Sepp van den Berg (17), highly rated and suggested to make up part of the first-team squad for this season.

Part of the role of senior players will be to help guide and improve those youngsters, says Matip, but fans have seen evidence over the last few seasons that it’s very much a team effort, with everyone contributing.

“You always try to lead from the front,” Matip continued.

“But there are a lot of good young players trying their best [here] – we all help each other. That’s how it works in the team.”

The battle for the second centre-back spot is one of the most intriguing parts of the team to watch develop this summer and all will be desperate to stay fit and be handed their chance to impress.