Signing Joël Matip has saved Liverpool millions, says Jurgen Klopp
Agreement on free transfer deal for centre back means club will not have to pay over the odds this summer
Jürgen Klopp says the signing of Joël Matip has saved Liverpool millions in transfer fees as he confirmed he had urged his club to sign the Schalke centre-half.
After years of ambiguity as to whether the manager or Anfield’s recruitment team was selecting targets, Klopp said he headhunted Matip.
The 24-year-old will move to Anfield before the start of next season on a Bosman deal, rejecting numerous offers from Germany to work with Klopp.
“He was an easy choice,” said Klopp. “Schalke is a big club who have played the last four or five years in the Champions League. They made him a big offer to stay.
"There are probably only three or four clubs in Germany who could get Matip when he is at Schalke – Dortmund, and that’s not possible [because they are rivals], Bayern, maybe Leverkusen and maybe Wolfsburg.
"The rest? No chance. Then you have to think about other countries and that is what he wanted to do, and we moved early enough.
“In England it is really difficult to sign a player without paying a transfer fee but I thought it can’t be a reason not to take him only because you cannot put a number behind his name.
"If you asked in Germany what other clubs would have paid for him had he still been under contract, you can just pick a number.
“He’s 24 years old, got over 200 Bundesliga games, played Champions League, played Europa League and was a German Cup winner in 2011. He wanted a new challenge and he’s made big steps in his development in the last few years. He’s become a really experienced centre-half – tall, but flexible and quick. A perfect header of the ball, he scores four or five goals a season, and is good in the build-up.”
Asked to confirm if the Cameroon international was the choice of the manager rather than a ‘transfer committee’ Klopp replied: “Yes.” Klopp added: “He’s a high-quality centre-half. You cannot play in a club like Schalke for six years, always in the starting line-up, without having big quality.
"He was thinking about doing something else because he had been with Schalke since the youth team in 2000, a long time, and he wanted to do something completely different. This was our chance, but for sure there were a lot of clubs interested in him. It’s good because he knows that I know him.
“He won’t be coming here having to show the manager special things, but he has to work hard and improve. He can be a really good centre-half in the Premier League.”
With Marko Grujic already signed for next season, Klopp now has two major additions for the summer. He is not sure how many more he will need.
“I don’t believe in the number of transfers but we have to make solutions and we will make solutions,” he said. “Also maybe players will make solutions and say they do not want to be here anymore, so you have to be prepared.
“It is about a squad where you can play different systems and react to different situations. It always changes. You prepare as much as possible and look for the highest quality you can get.”
Liverpool fly to Germany on Wednesday for their Europa League tie with Augsburg.
Lucas Leiva is fit, but Adam Lallana is out and youngster Kevin Stewart fears he has damaged ankle ligaments in training. “It was a bit bruised so we have sent him for a scan,” said Klopp.