Reds confirm Matip signing

LONDON • Juergen Klopp is showing the first signs he is starting to build his own squad after Liverpool announced Schalke defender Joel Matip will join the club on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Liverpool's interest in Matip has been known since last month and the move will see him follow Serbian midfielder Marko Grujic - Klopp's first signing as Reds manager - in joining the Merseysiders.

Grujic, recruited last month, immediately returned to former club Red Star Belgrade on loan for the remainder of the season.

Matip has been capped 27 times by Cameroon and played at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

The 1.93m German-born star, who is comfortable on the ball, primarily operates as a centre-back but can also be employed as a defensive midfielder.

Statistics show that he has a pass success rate above 90 per cent in the three Champions League games he has played this season.

His physical stature should see him cope with the demands of the Premier League, and his pace will allow Liverpool to play with a high defensive line effectively.

Klopp typically favours fast defenders with good technical ability as they fit in well with his high-pressure gegenpress or counter-press style of play.

Matip's tackling, ability to intercept passes and start counter-attacks are undoubtedly reasons why the Liverpool manager rates his new signing highly. The 24-year-old has played every minute of every game for Schalke this season. He has averaged 3.2 interceptions a game, more than any of Liverpool's current centre-halves, and has proved his aerial prowess, winning 3.3 aerial battles per game, reported the Liverpool Echo.

Matip, thought to have signed a four-year deal, has also scored 16 of his 17 Bundesliga goals from set pieces. "I have always said that I would leave Schalke for only one reason and that is to try something new," said the product of the club's youth academy. "Therefore, a transfer within the Bundesliga never came into consideration for me.

"Although my decision wasn't easy, I am convinced that it is now the right time to take the next step."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Reds confirm Matip signing'. Print Edition | Subscribe