Liverpool want Joel Matip to sign a contract extension after he battled his way to be first-choice at centre-back alongside Virgil van Dijk.
While the regular forwards were each rewarded with new deals last year and a host of other first-team players and promising youngsters have done likewise over the last couple of seasons, Matip remains the exception to the rule.
The Cameroonian’s contract is running down, despite being arguably the Reds’ most impressive and consistent performer in 2019.
Now Liverpool might be set to belatedly reward that form, with The Athletic’s James Pearce noting that the Reds want to prolong his stay at Anfield.
“Playing for your future tends to focus the mind,” says Pearce on Matip’s consistency. “He’s out of contract at the end of the season but Liverpool are keen to reward his progress with an extension.”
One point to note is that while Pearce notes Matip’s deal expires in the summer—meaning he can talk to new clubs overseas from January—other reports from the Echo have suggested there’s an extra year to run, with a 2021 expiry date.
This seems erroneous, however, as the initial deal was for four years and a 2020 expiration is still noted on Transfermarkt and Spotrac.
Despite his fantastic work obviously coming in the defensive third most of the time, Matip has also impacted in attack of late.
It was he who teed up Divock Origi‘s Champions League-clinching late strike in Madrid back in June, and he has started this season with two goals in four appearances, netting against Man City and Arsenal.
After winning his spot in the team midway through last season he deservedly remained in place through to the campaign’s end—and has already won back his spot alongside Van Dijk after Joe Gomez was initially handed a starting berth.
Long term, the expectation is that Gomez goes on to prove his immense worth once more.
But Liverpool need three starting-calibre centre-backs all pushing each other and that means rewarding Matip’s immense improvement is a must.
Now aged 28, a three-year deal or similar would see Matip remain with the Reds for his prime and ensure Klopp’s meritocracy continues, giving belief and reason to work hard for other squad players biding their time for regular action.
Matip has been a huge success story of the last ten months or so and there are few more deserving players in the squad if he lands an extension and a salary increase.
And, with an eye on the future, it would also assure the Reds of a chance to recoup a reasonable fee from a sale, if Gomez does usurp Matip once more in the coming months and seasons, or when the likes of Sepp van den Berg or Ki-Jana Hoever prove ready for regular senior action.