Liverpool transfer news: Joel Matip to sign on free transfer at the end of the season, Schalke 04 confirm

The Cameroon international will move to Anfield once his existing deal with the Bundesliga club expires this summer

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The Independent Football

Jürgen Klopp has attempted to address Liverpool’s defensive problems by reaching a pre-contract agreement with Joël Matip, the Schalke defender.

The 24-year-old will move to Anfield on July 1 on a four year deal after announcing he will leave his boyhood club where he is closing in on 250 appearances.

The signing is a significant one for Klopp, who targeted Matip as a player who could offer pace and height to an area of the Liverpool team which has been regularly criticised since Brendan Rodgers’s reign as manager.

Matip is expected to be the first of several incoming transfers made by Klopp who will be allowed by owners Fenway Sports Group to have the first and last say on recruitment.

Schalke were desperate to keep hold of Matip and were prepared to make him their highest paid player with a new deal, ahead of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Instead, the German-born Cameroonian international of 27 caps, who started his career in Schalke’s first team as a central midfielder, has decided to progress his career on Merseyside where he will join teenager Marko Grujić, who agreed his transfer from Red Star Belgrade in January before heading back to Serbia for the rest of the current campaign on loan.

“I have always said that I would only leave Schalke for one reason: to get to know something new,” Matip said. "I never even considered a move within the Bundesliga.

“Although my decision is definitely not easy, I am convinced that now is the right time to take this step.

“Schalke will remain a big family for me. I was always proud to play for this great club.

“I will do everything in the next few months to get the most out of this season so I do not feel guilty.”

At the end of 2015, Matip was named as the fifth best centre half in the Bundesliga by the respected German football magazine, Kicker. Matip was nominated behind Bayern Munich trio Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Javi Martínez, as well as Wolfsburg’s Naldo.

He might not be the only Schalke player departing for Liverpool, who have sent scouts to watch Leroy Sané on several occasions since Klopp’s appointment.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder who can also play as a winger, has flourished this season after being given extra creative responsibilities since the sale of Julian Draxler to Wolfsburg last summer.

Klopp has been analysing potential targets with the required speed in wide areas that can help him implement the type of counter-attacking football associated with Borussia Dortmund during his successful time there.