For most, the assumption has long been that with a year to run on his contract after the current season ends and a crowded centre half depth chart, Joël Matip would likely move on in the summer in search of a guaranteed starting job.
However, having impressed after being given the chance to play regularly due to injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, there are now claims that the defender’s future is at Anfield and that he will is set to be rewarded with a new long-term deal.
At least that’s the story today according to Football Insider, citing sources either within the club or with ties to the 27-year-old Cameroon. If true, it would raise as many questions as it answers when it comes to the future of Liverpool’s defence.
Because there are some certainties when it comes to Liverpool’s centre halves. There is, first and foremost, Virgil van Dijk. And after him, there is the youth and promise of Joe Gomez, for many second only to Van Dijk when fit.
Then, in some order, are Dejan Lovren and Matip, both probably good enough to start for a top side somewhere, both towards the tail end of their prime years, and both—like Gomez—with their own somewhat concerning injury histories.
Depending on how one is inclined to break it down, Liverpool have three capable second choice centre halves to run out alongside Van Dijk and all have struggled to stay fit in recent seasons, leading to a pair of problems for Jürgen Klopp.
On one side is the question of what to do if, as has happened on occasion, they all end up injured. On the other side is the question of what to do if, as has happened on occasion, they all can stay fit for an extended run.
If Matip is now set to stay, does that mean Lovren will move on in search of guaranteed playing time while Liverpool look to bring in a less injury-prone depth option? Or does it mean an unchanged four-deep for the 2019-20 season?
If it means the latter, and if Van Dijk and Gomez and Lovren and Matip can all stay fit, that’s a centre half depth chart that might be the best in Europe. But fitness will remain a question mark—as will keeping everyone happy if they can stay fit.