Over the past few weeks, Schalke’s Joel Matip has emerged as a key transfer target for Liverpool, and with the player out of contract at the end of the season there have been reliable reports that the club is working on a pre-contract agreement that could be signed on January 1st.
With Martin Skrtel recently suffering a hamstring tear expected to keep him out for six weeks, though, there is a need for defensive reinforcements now rather than next summer. That has led to speculation Liverpool will seek to convince Schalke to accept a nominal fee to let Matip go now rather than losing him on a free in six months.
Schalke have so far suggested they aren unwilling to make such a deal, but according to the Mirror and others, Liverpool are seriously considering a £4M bid that would test their resolve—particularly if it came following the player signing a pre-contract agreement with Liverpool that made his departure a certainty.
It’s a fee similar to one it has been rumoured Liverpool could offer for Dortmund’s out of favour centre half Neven Subotic, and it seems unlikely the club would make a move for both centre halves in January. In that light, it appears Matip is Jürgen Klopp’s top target as he seeks to reinforce a back line plagued by injuries.
Journalists with ties to Liverpool at both the Guardian and Echo have confirmed Liverpool have serious interest in Matip, with the former also having suggested there is a strong possibility the club will seek to acquire the defensive specialist in January rather than waiting for the summer as had been originally planned.
Matip is most regularly deployed at centre half for Schalke, though he is also comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder. The 24-year-old has been a regular for the German club in his seven years as a senior player, and he has been capped 27 times to date for Cameroon.