Klopp hails Matip's underrated influence at Liverpool

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In the final third of last season there were few defenders in the world better than the Reds centre-back, according to his manager

Jurgen Klopp believes Joel Matip's influence on his Champions League-winning Liverpool side is underrated, believing him to be one of the best in the world during the final part of last season.

The defender played a key role at the back for Liverpool alongside Virgil van Dijk in the second half of last season, as he stepped into a void created by injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren.

Matip proved instrumental in helping the Reds reign in Europe after finishing second to Manchester City in an incredible Premier League title race, retaining his place even as Gomez and Lovren returned to full fitness at the end of the season. 

Van Dijk's performances in Liverpool's stellar campaign have seen him come to be regarded as the finest defender in world football but when asked about the Netherlands captain at a media conference ahead of their friendly meeting with Borussia Dortmund, Klopp instead preferred to talk about his partner in defence.

"I think everything about him has been said, what a guy he is, what a player he is, but not a lot of people spoke about the impact Joel Matip had in the last third of the season," Klopp said.

"I don't see a lot of centre-backs in the world who are better in that period, 100 per cent, pretty much without any mistakes.

"Virgil was the constant in that last line [of defence] and it felt always good when you saw him there. He organises a lot of things on the pitch. He's a fantastic player and was a pretty good signing."

The impact of James Milner in the Liverpool dressing room has also become clear and while Klopp feels the 33-year-old still has plenty to offer as a player, he would be willing to offer the former England international an opportunity to cut his teeth as a coach at Anfield.

"There are still a few good years to come [from Milner] and I’m not sure if we already have to think about what he can do after his career," Klopp added.

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"But I'm pretty sure for a guy like him there's always a door open at our club, 100 per cent.

"You could see in different moments last season how much it meant to him, four years back [when Milner joined on a free transfer] I don't know what people in Liverpool thought about him, but it was a brilliant idea in that moment because without players like Milly success in football is impossible."

Liverpool open their USA tour with that match against Dortmund on Friday, followed by a contest against Sevilla on Sunday and finish up their American trip against Sporting CP on July 24.