After being left out of the FA Cup fourth-round defeat by fierce rivals Manchester United as a precautionary measure, Matip returned to the starting XI in the Premier League on Thursday night and partnered returning captain Jordan Henderson as manager Jurgen Klopp – with Fabinho ruled out with a minor muscle issue – was forced to use his 11th centre-back partnership in just 20 games this season.
However, Matip was only able to play 45 minutes of the morale-boosting 3-1 victory in north London and was replaced by Nathaniel Phillips at the interval after suffering an injury that could leave him facing an extended period on the sidelines.
“It looks like something serious with Joel Matip, it’s an ankle injury,” Klopp said after the game.
With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined with long-term injuries and the likes of Matip and Fabinho also having battled issues this season, Liverpool’s need for a new centre-back has been clear for some time, though they have yet to add to their defensive ranks this month.
Klopp said before his side’s first league win of 2021 that he did not expect anything to happen between now and Monday night’s transfer deadline, though that could well now change as a result of Matip’s problem.
“You can imagine that we think about everything,” he said. “It’s about doing the right thing. We need to find the right player.”