Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip is expected to leave the club next summer once his contract expires, according to James Pearce.
Speaking on the Walk On podcast, the Athletic journalist says that the Reds need to make a strong decision on how they want to rebuild their defence next summer, as he “fully expects” Matip to depart.
After finishing fifth in the Premier League last season, Liverpool needed a sea-change approach in the transfer window, and they were quite successful in redeveloping their midfield.
The old guard – players like Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and Fabinho – have all left the club and several new faces have come in. It would have been unfair to make drastic changes in every area of the pitch, and Jurgen Klopp has done the right thing in sticking with the current defensive set-up.
However, Klopp cannot turn a blind eye to issues at the back, and at some point – maybe in January or next summer – the club need to make wholesome changes.
“The club also know that they need succession planning with Joel Matip out of contract next summer,” said Pearce.
“I fully expect him to move on in 2024 so it’s just a case of what do you do.
“Do you sign someone in January who might potentially have six months to bed in before Matip leaves?
“Or, do you get through until May and then address it?
“And then of course next summer you’ve got the situation where [Virgil] Van Dijk will be down to his last year and there’ll be a decision to make there as well.”
Matip has been a great servant for the club. He was signed by Klopp in 2016 from Schalke and has gone on to make 189 appearances for the Reds in all competitions.
He played a major role in helping Liverpool win the Premier League title in 2019-20, but last season, showed signs of weariness.
Along with Joe Gomez, his fitness remains a major concern for the club. He has forged a strong partnership at the back alongside Virgil van Dijk over the years, but the Reds are unlikely to renew his contract.
Klopp has shown great desire to unearth talents from the academy, and young Jarell Quansah has been drafted into the senior side this season. He has looked quite solid at the back, but more experienced players are needed if Matip leaves the club.