When news emerged in Germany that Schalke had offered Joel Matip an improved, €75k per week deal to stay in the Bundesliga beyond the current season, some speculated that had been the plan all along. That rumours of Liverpool interest had been nothing more than an agent seizing on Liverpool’s need for defensive reinforcement and the arrival of Jürgen Klopp.
According to the Liverpool Echo, though, Liverpool’s interest in the versatile defensive specialist is in fact very real, and the club are currently working on a pre-contract agreement the 24-year-old Cameroonian international would be able to sign when the transfer window opens on January 1st. Given the riches of the Premier League, they should have little trouble beating Schalke’s improved offer.
Given the latest injury to a Liverpool defender, with Martin Skrtel joining Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren on the injured list—with only Lovren expected to return shortly—along with Mamadou Sakho’s spotting fitness record and Kolo Toure’s age, there is also a chance Liverpool look to convince Schalke to part with Matip in January for a nominal fee rather than losing him for nothing in the summer.
Schalke had previously made noises about being wanting to hold on to Matip until the end of the season regardless of whether he had signed a pre-contract agreement with another club, but faced with the reality of losing the player on a free rather than simply the possibility could change their minds. And for Liverpool there would certainly seem to be a need for reinforcements sooner rather than later.
Matip could make for an especially useful January signing, as not only does he fill an immediate need at centre half, but he also has experience playing as a defensive midfielder. His presence in the squad would fill two positions of need, and though he has at times been knocked for inconsistency, at his best he would be a valuable addition to Liverpool’s first team who still has room to grow.
Though he isn’t the most agile player, Matip has above average speed for a central defender and is comfortable on the ball whether he’s playing in the back line or midfield, and at 6’5" he dominates in the air. He has made 232 appearances for Schalke across all competitions in his seven years as a senior player at the club, adding 22 goals along the way. He has 27 caps and a goal for Cameroon.