Jurgen Klopp believes Joel Matip is not even at peak form despite winning the Player of the Month award for February, insisting it is just “most obvious” now.
Matip was named the Premier League‘s Player of the Month last week having produced an excellent run of form throughout February, including a goal against Leeds.
In doing so, he became the first centre-back to win the prize since Virgil van Dijk in 2018, with the last before then being Jan Vertonghen all the way back in 2013.
The following day, Matip played a sumptuous ball through for Luis Diaz‘s brave opener against Brighton, in what was his 32nd start of the campaign.
He has struggled with injury in recent seasons, but looks back to his best – though reacting to Matip’s award, Klopp suggested he has been in better form than this.
“No. [It is] the most obvious form for people, because of the outcome of these situations, scores, sets up, these kind of things,” he said, when asked if Matip was at his best.
“Joel is pretty consistent since he’s here, when he’s fit he is always good.
“It’s not that he played 100 percent, all the time, outstanding games – but a lot, when he was fit.
“I just think it’s just most obvious in the moment, because of scoring and these kinds of things.
“Player of the Month is absolutely great. He was before in a similar shape and long, long, long may it continue.”
There was an element of the Garth Crooks complex when it came to Matip’s Player of the Month award, given it came during a time in which the 30-year-old had seen his high standards slip ever so slightly.
But he is certainly deserving of the recognition, having outperformed Van Dijk – and, in turn, the majority of other centre-backs – for much of the current campaign.
With Klopp noting “when he’s fit he is always good,” it is worth commending the No. 32 for avoiding injury throughout the season so far, as well as the club’s medical staff for managing his fitness.
His next full 90 minutes, which is likely to come at Arsenal on Wednesday night, will see Matip eclipse his best-ever minutes tally for a single season with Liverpool – that coming in 2017/18.