Liverpool’s centre-half crisis may have abated in time for a thrilling Premier League draw against Arsenal, but persistent rumours linking the Reds to reinforcements have solidified in the shape of Schalke defender Joel Matip.
The Daily Mirror claim that a deal between Liverpool and the Cameroonian international is arranged in principle, paving the way for a free transfer in the summer.
For the majority of Reds fans unversed in the Bundesliga outside of Bayern Munich, here is a little rundown of the player who could well be rocking up at Anfield during the next transfer window.
Long-time Schalke servant
Born to a German mother and Cameroonian father in Bochum, Germany, Matip’s talents earned him a spot in Schalke’s youth setup back in 2000, before the now 24-year-old earned his first-team stripes in October 2009.
Since his debut as an 18-year-old, the 6ft 4” centre-half has gone on to clock up nearly 200 appearances for the Gelsenkirchen-based outfit.
Despite the loyal service, it’s widely accepted that Matip’s refusal to sign a new deal at the Veltins Arena is due to his desire for a new challenge.
Versatility is a strength
Playing predominantly as a central defender, but occasionally as a defensive midfielder, Matip has picked up the German Cup and Super Cup in his extensive time with Schalke.
His versatility in moving up into the midfield is testament to his technical ability and this is thought to be a big attraction for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who has long been an admirer.
Heaps of experience in continental competition
Perhaps more pertinent for fans of Liverpool, though, is Matip’s vast experience in Europe’s premier competition for such a relatively young player.
Although Schalke only qualified for the Europa League this season – where they’ve booked a spot in the last 16 – the prospective Red is a veteran of four Champions League campaigns, helping the Bundesliga outfit reach the last 16 in three successive seasons.
Indeed, the cousin of former Premier League striker Joseph Desire Job also has two World Cup tournament finals on his CV from 27 caps to date, scoring against host nation Brazil in 2014, so he’s no stranger to top-level competition.
Can Liverpool give Matip Champions League football?
Currently treading water in ninth in the Premier League and rated as 5/2 chances to break the top four after a 3-3 home draw against Arsenal, Klopp will dearly hope Matip’s Champions League experience will be needed in 2016/17.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter?Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.