Liverpool have been one of the more active Premier League clubs in the transfer market this month, signing Serbian midfielder Marko Grujic for just over £5 million.
Jurgen Klopp was also forced to recruit a central defender due to an unusual amount of injuries. The Merseyside club have taken Steven Caulker on loan from QPR until the end of the current campaign. The speculation keeps circulating in the media about possible signings this month and the Anfield club are now set to sign Schalke defender Joel Matip in the summer, with the Mirror reporting that a deal has been agreed in principal for the player.
Liverpool were linked with Matip this month before signing Caulker on loan but Schalke were reported to not have been interested in selling the defender. This put an end to a deal happening in this window, but Matip will become a Liverpool player in the summer when his current contract with Schalke expires.
The 24-year-old defender has played every minute of Schalke’s current league campaign and has also scored twice in the league this season and once in the Europa League. The Cameroon international’s strengths are tackling, interceptions and being comfortable in possession, while he is also a lethal threat to opponents from set-pieces.
So far this season, Matip’s statistics put him up there with some of the best defenders in the world. A prime example is the number clearances he has made, averaging 4.88 per game, which is a higher rate than Thiago Silva (4.65) and Jerome Boateng (2.98).
The defender’s successful tackle rate is also impressive as he makes an average of 1.5 successful tackles per game, which is a higher rate than Gerard Pique (1.09) and Laurent Koscielny (0.99).
Matip is also great in the air as he has won an average of 3.53 aerial duels per game this season, which is far ahead of Silva (2.25), Sergio Ramos (1.86), Boateng (1.96), Pique (2.17) and Koscielny (3.04).
The 24-year-old is also an experienced international. He has made 27 appearances for his country, Cameroon, including two appearances in the 2014 World Cup where he also scored in Cameroon’s 4-1 loss to Brazil.
Klopp will also be looking forward to working with Matip as he is very familiar with the defender from his successful time in the Bundesliga with Borrussia Dortmund.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena