Saturday, June 12, 2021

Is Joël Matip The Next Daniel Agger?

Liverpool centre back Joël Matip has been ruled out for the rest of the season, after another injury setback.

The Cameroon international’s ankle ligament injury forced Liverpool to buy two centre backs on deadline day as he becomes the third senior centre back to suffer a long term injury this season.

Matip is an excellent player on his day, but injuries have affected his last two seasons. Here is why his Liverpool career is following the same trajectory as an ex Anfield centre back, former Danish international Daniel Agger.

Matip’s Injury Hit Time On Merseyside

Liverpool agreed to sign Matip on a free transfer after the centre half allowed his contract to expire at Schalke. Matip immediately showed his talent and scored his first goal in a 4-2 away win at Crystal Palace in October 2016.

He was seen as a player who was playing in well in a poor defence. During the following season, Matip would suffer a season-ending injury in April 2018 that would rule him out of the Champions League final, where Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid.

Matip would have his best season for the club on the pitch during the 2018/19 season but would continue to suffer injury issues.

He would suffer a muscle injury in the pre-season tour of the United States but made it back for August.

A broken collarbone in December 2018 saw Matip miss six weeks but the centre back would come back and have a great end to the season, going on to assist Divock Origi’s game clincher in the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur during the 2019 Champions League final.

The following season started as well as it could have for Matip, scoring in the Community Shield penalty shootout defeat against Man City and the 3-1 league win against Arsenal during the same month.

Matip celebrates his goal against Arsenal at Anfield.

However, injuries soon became a factor. During the 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Matip suffered an ankle injury that kept him out until January 2020.

After a three month hiatus due to the global pandemic, Matip was injured in Liverpool’s first game back against Everton at Goodison Park. He did not play again for the remainder of the season as the club celebrated their first league title in 30 years.

Injuries have continued to plague Matip going into this season. The season-ending set back have Liverpool fans wondering if Matip will ever be able to put a run of games together. This is something that fans also asked when Agger was at the club.

Agger’s Issues Staying Fit

Daniel Agger is seen as a cult hero at Liverpool, scoring 14 goals in 232 appearances for the club. He joined from Brøndby IF for £6 million. Whilst he only won one League Cup at the club, he scored the goal against Chelsea that put Liverpool level on aggregate as the Reds won on penalties to reach the Champions League final.

Agger was also known for his ability to play out from the back or to score from range, most notably against West Ham United in 2006/07 and Blackburn Rovers in 2008/09. He was also known for his inability to stay fit.

Injuries meant Agger only played four games in his first half-season at the club, missing out on playing in the 2006 FA Cup Final win over West Ham.

Agger’s next big injury came during the 2007/08 season, where a metatarsal injury kept Agger out of the team from September 2007 limited Agger to just five Premier League games that season.

A back injury meant Agger missed the start of the 2009/10 season before returning in October and the Denmark international would suffer a season-ending injury the following campaign in March 2011. During the 2012 League Cup final win over Cardiff City, Agger suffered a rib injury that would keep him out for just over a month.

Agger celebrates the League Cup triumph alongside Martin Škrtel.

He would find himself out of favour after Brendan Rodgers arrived on Merseyside in the summer of 2012, most notably in the 2013/14 season before returning to Brondby in the summer of 2014.

With similar frustrations surrounding the injuries to both Agger and Matip in their respective careers, it is easy to see why these two players draw such similarities and why Matip can be viewed as the next Daniel Agger.

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