Jurgen Klopp experimented with a number of defensive partnerships last season but none were more successful than that of Joel Matip and Van Dijk.

Liverpool started the season with Joe Gomez and Van Dijk in the back and the pair were doing a fine job until the youngster got himself injured.

Then for a brief period, it was Dejan Lovren who was used alongside the Dutchman but somehow that did not work out perfectly for Klopp.

Finally, it was Joel Matip who stepped up and became the perfect partner to Van Dijk and the pair were almost unpenetrable towards the end of the previous season.

And so Klopp chose to talk about him despite being questioned about the brilliance of Virgil Van Dijk.

“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.”

With such fine performances under his belt last season, many people have predicted that Joel Matip will be the first choice partner to Van Dijk next season. And now with Klopp’s words, these predictions get extra leverage.

The defender though has made it clear that he will have to fight for his place in the starting line-up yet again.

“It was nice to play and have the success, but a new season begins,” Joel Matip told Liverpool’s official website.

“You start new and last season doesn’t matter. You only have to take the things, learn the things from last year, but we all start from new.

“We have a lot of good players. I try to play as much as possible, but we will see.

“Because of this, we have a high-quality squad like this. Everyone needs to step in if someone is missing, injured or not in the best shape. We are looking good and I am looking forward to the season.”

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