Joel Matip has proven to be one of Liverpool’s greatest ever signings in terms of value for money.
The former Cameroon international joined the club on a free transfer from Schalke in 2016 and has since been a key influence on Liverpool’s overwhelming success over the past 24 months.
This makes the prospect of such key personnel being traded in the summer window all the more baffling.
Matip was instrumental in the club’s title challenge in 2018/19 and alongside Virgil van Dijk was paramount in Liverpool recording a sixth European Cup success.
The most recent campaign saw Matip’s momentum hindered by an ongoing knee injury in which he was only able to feature for Liverpool in the league on just nine occasions last season.
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Liverpool’s defensive steel over the past two years has been one of the defining factors that has taken the team from near misses to continental kings.
A need for defensive options
Currently, the club are left with just three senior options in central defence following on from Dejan Lovren’s departure to Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Lovren’s £10.9 million [Guardian] sale has led to numerous reports linking the English champions with a number of viable replacements.
Remarkably, according to The Express, Liverpool could indeed be plotting a move for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly if Matip were to be sold.
Cameroonian news outlet Kick 442 recently reported that Paris Saint Germain are interested in the prospect of bringing Matip to the Parc de Princes with the Premier League-winning defender identified as a viable replacement for departing club-captain Thiago Silva.
Matip recently signed a long-term contract extension back in October 2019 as a reward for his outstanding performances throughout 2019 which would enable Liverpool to command a hefty fee were the club to part ways with Matip.
Kick442 journalist Angu Lesley, speaking on The Football Terrace podcast, recently claimed the Reds are willing to cash in on Matip if it meant signing Koulibaly.
“We have a reporter in Naples that tries to check out everything on everything,” he explained.
“Over four weeks ago we did a story on Victor Osimhen moving to Napoli as a near certainty.
“I think one thing is for sure. With the expenses of Napoli, bringing Osimhen to Naples, they must cash in this summer to balance the books.
“And if you look at the properties on their books, Kalidou is the hottest property.
“At this point in time, when you look at injuries and they bring in Kalidou for the same age, it’s not a bad deal for Liverpool and for Mr Klopp.”
Reports change the dynamic entirely
If Liverpool are serious about remaining on their perch and defending their league title they will have to be ruthless and accept that the status of being the best in the land makes the club arguably the most attractive footballing destination in Europe making numerous reports with some of the continents most coveted stars all the more unsurprising.
Koulibaly, 29 and Matip, 28 are both at very similar stages of their careers which would determine an almost like-for-like replacement should the latter decide to leave Liverpool.
It’s very rare to lose a player of significant value to the team and have a ready-made option that even considered an upgrade waiting in the wings.
While Matip has demonstrated himself as an able performer in the past in comparison to Koulibaly he lacks durability following on from a season that has been plagued by injury.
Koulibaly – who has been valued at £70 million [Telegraph] – has been a mainstay in the Napoli team this season having clocked up 33 appearances this season and is considered one of the best central defenders in world football.
Also, another factor that could make a move more viable will be the fact that Napoli will likely have to sanction a big-money move for one of their players if they are to balance the books following their club-record signing of Victor Osimhen from Lille.
It is indeed an ambitious series of developments but Liverpool in the past have proven that they are not afraid to spend if money is made available from outgoings.
Philippe Coutinho’s gargantuan £142 million move t0 Barcelona in 2018 was the major influencer in Liverpool signing the club’s two most expensive players Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
Matip’s contractual situation dictates that Liverpool would not condone selling Matip unless they were to receive an offer the club deemed too much to refuse.
While a move for Koulibaly would at this current point from a financial sense seem irresponsible, recent reports linking Matip with a move to the French champions could change the dynamic entirely.
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