Liverpool ‘agree’ deal for new defender following Caulker swoop

Liverpool have ’agreed a deal in principle’ with Schalke defender Joel Matip ahead of a free transfer this summer, according to reports from The Mirror.

The Reds have been heavily linked with the Cameroon international for much of the past few months, but despite their injury crisis – somewhat eased by the arrival of Steven Caulker, albeit on loan, yesterday – a January deal for his signature was deemed impossible to manoeuvre.

Matip, however, is out of contract in less than six months’ time, and he’s already told Schalke that he’s looking to move on in search of a new challenge.

And now reports claim that Liverpool have reached an agreement with the 24-year-old ahead of a Bosman switch to Anfield this coming summer.

Kop chief Jurgen Klopp is known to be an admirer of the athletic and versatile defender, who can play at centre-back, full-back or in defensive midfield, after watching him at close quarters during his spell in charge of Schalke’s Bundesliga rivals, Dortmund.

Matip could be a long-term replacement for veteran Ivorian Kolo Toure, who is likely to be released when his own contract expires at the end of the season.

What this deal means for Caulker remains unclear, with the former England international having only agreed to join Liverpool from QPR for the remainder of the campaign.

Klopp’s defensive ranks have been battered by injury of late, with all four of his first choice central options – Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren – having been sidelined with fitness issues – albeit the former duo may be back for tonight’s clash with Arsenal.