Joel Matip has admitted he needs to adapt to Liverpool’s tactical shift.
The 32-year-old centre back, who has been at the club since 2016, has yet to be used in the Premier League this season, and was an unused substitute in the fixtures against Chelsea and Bournemouth.
There have been questions raised about Matip’s suitability to Liverpool’s new formation, with Trent Alexander-Arnold now deployed in a hybrid role that sees him push into midfield in possession.
After a leaky pre-season, in which the Reds conceded 11 goals in just five games, some have suggested Matip is no longer physically capable of playing a role that requires him to cover more space in the absence of a traditional right back.
READ MORE: Joel Matip – Can the defender still be a reliable part of Liverpool’s new system?
However, even without Matip there have been defensive concerns in Liverpool’s opening two league games, and it appears a rhythm and balance still needs to be found between the Reds’ backline and midfield.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official matchday programme, Matip admitted that both he and the other players still need time to adapt, but insisted there will be improvements.
“It is obviously a different kind of situation for me now and I need to adapt,” Matip said. “I think it will get better and better in the season.
“For sure, I have to think of different things on the pitch because the right-back will not be there in the first moment. We need to adapt, but at the same time we have got some more players and some new players in the midfield.
“There are always some pros and cons, but there is no perfect system. It’s how we live the system that we are playing and I feel confident of our system.”
Matip also stressed that a big part of getting the defence right is building a ‘close connection’ with the defensive midfielder.
“Different kinds of players will now play in front of us and everybody needs to adapt and maybe change, but we will try to help each other,” Matip added.
“As centre-backs we always have a close connection to our six – the guy who plays in front of you – and it will be no different now. We need to help the six and the six needs to help us.”
Liverpool sold last season’s regular holding operator Fabinho, while pre-season saw a number of different players take up the ‘number six’ role as transfer plans to bring in new players hit roadblocks. Alexis Mac Allister has started the season in the position, but is likely to cede the role to new £16m signing Wataru Endo in the short-term – though more arrivals could yet happen before deadline day.