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Joel Matip is the Ringo Starr of Liverpool’s defence – cruelly underappreciated

Since the Beatles were proud Liverpudlians, let’s force an extended metaphor.

If Virgil van Dijk (£5.6m) is John Lennon, the leader of the group, and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£6.2m) is Paul McCartney, a prolific creative genius, then Joel Matip (£3.7m) is Ringo Starr, cruelly underrated.

That makes Andy Robertson (£3.9m) George Harrison, which is perhaps where the parallel collapses.

Anyway, the point is that Liverpool’s Cameroonian centre-back is underappreciated, outside of Anfield at least, because of the brilliance around him.

The truth is that Matip has arguably been the Reds’ best defender this season, in terms of the actual defensive side of the game.

Complete with Beatles-esque facial hair

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Complete with Beatles-esque facial hair

Van Dijk undoubtedly has a higher ceiling but the Dutchman has returned from a significant injury and, while he’s restored a sense of authority, a certain degree of match rustiness was on display during the first third of the campaign, as is natural.

Matip has been dogged by injury problems himself in recent years but he performs at an exceptionally high level whenever he’s able to string a few games together.

The 30-year-old has started 23 games in all competitions in 2021/22, just one fewer than Van Dijk.

He needs just three more points to join Dream Team’s 100 Club™ and surely deserves to be more popular than he is currently.

Matip’s ownership sits at 9% right now, which is respectable, but doesn’t match up to his status as a top ten defender.

For example, Kyle Walker (£3.6m) appears in more teams (13.6%) and he’s 39 points short of a century at this stage.

A formidable pair

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A formidable pair

More importantly, Matip is comparatively a bargain at £3.7m – he’s the cheapest defender in the top ten.

He’s more affordable than Raphael Varane (£3.8m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (£3.9m), Aaron Cresswell (£3.9m) and several other assets in his position with considerably fewer points.

Jurgen Klopp’s side face Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Leicester, Burnley, Inter and Norwich before the end of February – it would be reasonable to expect approximately four clean sheets from those fixtures.

Cheap, sub-10% ownership, relatively favourable fixtures – Matip ticks a lot of boxes for Dream Team bosses.