Joel Matip pays ultimate compliment to Virgil van Dijk

Toby Cudworth
Matop has been reunited with Virgil van Dijk after injuries
Matop has been reunited with Virgil van Dijk after injuries / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Liverpool defender Joel Matip has said it's great to be playing alongside Virgil van Dijk again, who he describes as the most "complete centre-back" in the world.

The pair have been reunited after Matip's overcoming of a number of injuries and Van Dijk's recovery from knee ligament damage suffered in the Merseyside derby last October.

Commanding performances have followed, helping Liverpool get off to an impressive start to the season. The Reds are unbeaten in their seven Premier League outings so far, winning four of those, and they're also going well in the Champions League - evidenced by their romping 5-1 win at Porto in their most recent group game.

For Matip, he's been thrilled to reunite with Van Dijk, referring to the 30-year-old as the "complete centre-back" in an interview for the October issue of Liverpool's club magazine.

"It has been great for me to play alongside Virgil again," Matip said. "It was a long time for him to be out and I am really happy to see him back on the pitch.

"He's the complete centre-back. He is calm with the ball and great against the ball. He is a leader when we are playing and we missed him, but now he is back and that is good for us.

Virgil van Dijk with Joel Matip
Van Dijk and Matip remain Liverpool's first-choice centre-back duo / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Matip also had positive words to say about summer recruit Ibrahima Konate, who is settling in to life on Merseyside after a £36m move from RB Leipzig during the summer.

He's started just once in the Premier League so far, but Matip says it's understandable for the Frenchman to need time to adjust to his new surroundings - adding that it's only a matter of time before the chemistry between any combination of goalkeeper, back four and defensive midfielder is seamless.

"Ibou is settling in really good. It always takes some time to settle in general and in the defence to get a good connection," Matip noted. "It needs time before I know how he will react and he will know how I react. We have trained a lot together and it will always need some time next to a new player, but he is already going really well.

"Everybody has the same idea of football in how we defend, but of course everybody reacts a little bit differently so you need to get adapted. "It depends on the six who are playing because we do not all play the same way so we always have to make some small adaptations. 

"But the idea of how we play – and how we defend – always stays the same. Of course, small adaptations are necessary for every player because every player is different."