Joel Matip has won the Premier League player of the month for February, and Jurgen Klopp isn’t surprised.
“That was great. Before training, we had a meeting, and Thiago Alcantara had put a picture in the players’ [WhatsApp] group, where he [Matip] had the trophy in his hand, so I asked “is it true that Joel won?”‘ Klopp told reporters.
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Unsurprisingly, as Klopp tells it the squad were quite a bit happy for Matip: “[the celebrations were] similar to the celebrations after the Carabao Cup, to be honest! It was really cool. Joel is a very famous figure in the group, in the team, and he obviously doesn’t get a lot of headlines.”
Klopp, a notorious believer in a unified team mentality rather than collecting talented superstars, stated his dislike of individual awards in general but seemed happy to make an exception for Matip: “I don’t like individual prizes for players too much, but if there was one who should have won it, it makes sense that it was Joel.”
In classic Klopp fashion, however, there were jokes: “Who votes for it? Was it his mum? The Premier League? A panel? I think I criticised the Premier League quite frequently, but I have to say now; you have made worse decisions!”
Klopp thinks Matip is too focused on football to care about individual success: “Believe me, if there is one person on this planet who couldn’t care less if we all underrate him, it’s Joel Matip! Honestly. He doesn’t even realise, probably.”
“He’s just happy to be here with these boys. He’s a really smart person, but not into these kind of things. He never thinks, ‘my God, I should have another status’ or whatever. Not at all.”
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Matip’s performances this month have been excellent, playing four out of five games, winning them all and conceding just one goal along the way. You can see why he was awarded because the stability he’s brought to the Reds has helped push to within three points of Man City.
Today he starred as Liverpool beat Brighton 0-2, playing his part in yet another stellar defensive display with 5 clearances, 1 interception, 4/4 aerial duels won and completed 29/37 passes. And then, yes, his wonderful assist.