Jurgen Klopp is thrilled to have sealed a deal to bring Schalke’s “top-class” centre-back Joel Matip to Liverpool at the end of the season.
Liverpool confirmed on Monday that Cameroon international Matip has signed a pre-contract agreement, and will move to Anfield upon the expiry of his deal at the Veltins-Arena.
Klopp is well aware of the 24-year-old’s ability having managed Schalke’s arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund for seven years, and the German believes the defender has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website about the transfer, Klopp said: “I am very happy. Everybody who knows him would have been interested. Maybe he’s not the most famous player in England, but he’s 24 and has played about 200 Bundesliga games for Schalke.
“He is a top-class centre-half, very young but experienced. You don’t have that too often. To be honest, when I had my break I thought for the next club, I should think about Joel, if there was a need.
“He never played for my team, he did the extreme opposite – he played for their biggest opponent! Maybe that says a lot about his quality. Even when he played for the team you cannot love as Dortmund manager, you see his quality. Then that’s real quality.
“The chance was there and Joel wanted to do something different. He is and was really close to his club; it’s normal, he played there since he was a youth player. I think there was no chance for another Bundesliga club in this moment, but Liverpool was the right name and the right club.
“Maybe it was a little advantage that I know him and he knows me. He’s still a young player and for a young player, it could help to make the decision when there’s a manager from your home country.
“It’s a good situation, hopefully a win-win. In this moment, it looks like this. Now he has to stay healthy and after the summer break we can start working together.”
Klopp continued: “He’s a real centre-half. He is physically strong, a really tall boy – taller than me! It doesn’t happen too often that I have to [looks upwards].
“He’s quick, he’s flexible in his movements and good in technical things. He has played in different systems, with four or three defenders. He scores goals, four or five per season minimum. He is good in the one-on-one and quick. It’s a package.
“He has to learn, that’s normal, but he has learned a lot in the last few years and made big steps in his development. For us, it was a chance. You can’t always make transfers only to solve a problem.
“I know people are saying our defence isn’t that good. We have to defend better as a team, first of all. It’s not for solving a problem – it’s a transfer with a really good perspective for the future, a long-term thing. But he can help immediately and that’s really good for us.”