In a season where seemingly anything can and will happen, a line has to be drawn somewhere.
Not that the Cameroonian isn’t capable of performing at Camp Nou. Indeed, his imperious display in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against the Spaniards in 2019 perhaps went a long way to explaining their interest.
But with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez facing a battle to be fit again this season, Matip has now been elevated as Liverpool’s senior – and, in fact, only – available recognised centre-back.
The Reds granting his departure in the New Year is unthinkable, even if reinforcements are brought in. Not when so much could now rest on the defender’s shoulders, starting with Sunday evening’s visit of Premier League leaders Leicester City.
With Matip having recently missed five games with a muscle problem and totalled only three top-flight starts in 13 months, Liverpool will no doubt look to ease the workload on the 29-year-old where possible.
But in terms of talent, Jurgen Klopp is in no doubt Matip can answer the call and become a defensive fulcrum once more.
“Since he has been with us he has been pretty much incredible,” says the Liverpool boss. “That’s why we signed him.
“Unbelievable how good he is. Yes, he was unlucky with injuries. Before he signed for us, he pretty much played for Schalke through four or five or six years, then when he gets here he is unlucky.
“They have all been different injuries. The last injury he got, somebody had cut his tendon on his toe by swishing on it, again an Everton game last season.
“Then he’s out again and he looks vulnerable, but it’s just something everybody would have suffered in exactly the same situation.
“Now he is back and hopefully for a long time. Is it the best moment of his career? I don’t know. But I’m really happy with the moment he’s had for the last four years here.”
Matip is likely to be partnered by Fabinho, who returned to training this week having recovered from the hamstring issue that ruled him out for more than three weeks.
The duo have only started together in central defence once previously, although they kept a clean sheet in a goalless home draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League in February 2019.
Liverpool entertain Leicester missing not only their best defender in Van Dijk, but also their most creative player in Trent Alexander-Arnold, their top scorer in Mohamed Salah and arguably their most inspirational in skipper Jordan Henderson.
With the Reds’ injury and illness crisis continuing to bite, vice-captain James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum will be expected to step up as senior figures as Liverpool aim to set a new club record of 64 home league games unbeaten.
Klopp, though, is confident his team can demonstrate why they have been dubbed ‘monsters of mentality’ by their manager.
“I’ve said many times the character of my players, not only Millie and Hendo but the likes of Gini and Virg, these guys are natural leaders,” he says. “What they did in the last few years is exceptional.
“It’s much more that we create immediately a mood and we are working on it.
“Friday was the first time the boys have all been together since the Man City game. We will create for ourselves the mood. That’s clear.
“If only two players go into the dressing room now and tell the boys what to do, then that’s not enough. We all have to step up and that’s what we will do. I’m not worried about that.”
Klopp found himself the subject of speculation in the wake of Germany’s 6-0 UEFA Nations League thumping against Spain in midweek, with calls for him to replace Joachim Low as national team head coach.
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The Reds boss, though, is only concerned by matters at Anfield.
“I thought this was the question I had answered most often in my life!” he laughs at suggestions he could take the Germany job.
“In the future, maybe. Now, no. Because I have no time – I have a job. A pretty intense job, by the way.
“I’m not sure if anybody has been asking about me in public, but if they don’t know, I have a job here, at Liverpool. Even when the weather is bad again, I like it.
“I’m responsible for a lot of things here. So I will not go and search for another challenge out there, I have enough challenges after waking up in the morning already. That’s enough!”