Matip has slipped under the radar but has all the quality to become one of the signings of the season.
The Reds have endured their fair share of dodgy defenders in recent years, with the decidedly erratic Martin Skrtel the best of a bad bunch featuring Sebastian Coates and Sotirios Krygiakos and, to a lesser extent, Mamadou Sakho.
However, Cameroon international Matip has quickly become a fans favourite at Anfield for his excellent reading of the game and composure, with his ability to mop up possession rather than resorting to a last-ditch lunge earning comparisons with a number of former Liverpool greats, including Hansen and Sami Hyypia.
And Whelan agrees with claims made by former Reds manager Roy Evans that Matip could be the second-coming of the three-time European Cup winning defender.
“I was working for Liverpool TV with Roy Evans and, at one point, he mentioned that Matip looked ‘Hansen-esque’,” Whelan told the Liverpool Echo. “That’s a big thing and it wasn’t said lightly.
“Again, it’s a sign that [Jurgen] Klopp is getting the best out of his players. This is all part of Klopp’s mission to reconnect people with the past but in a positive way.
“I’m more than pleased to see [Dejan] Lovren playing so well beside Joel Matip, another big success story.”
It is far too soon to draw a line under Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies and suggest the arrival of Matip is the answer to the club’s prayers, but their second clean sheet of the season against Southampton hints that long overdue improvements are being made.
Liverpool have looked far more solid with Matip in the back four, with his composure without the ball and his class with it helping to stop and start attacks simultaneously – a style trademarked by Hansen.