Joel Matip takes big step in injury recovery as Liverpool exit looms

Joel Matip has taken another big step in his recovery from a long-term ACL injury, though the likelihood is that his next game will not be for Liverpool.

At the end of March, Jurgen Klopp revealed that Matip was running on the outdoor pitches of the AXA Training Centre for the first time since his injury in December.

The centre-back required surgery after the 4-3 win over Fulham, with it always the expectation that he would go on to miss the remainder of the season.

While that has proved to be the case, Matip was spotted working with a ball again in Friday’s session as Liverpool prepare to visit Aston Villa on Monday night.

He was not part of the main group, but the sight of the 32-year-old moving more freely again was certainly a welcome one.

Weeks left on his contract

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 20, 2023: Liverpool's Joël Matip during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between LASK and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Andrew Yeats/Propaganda)

It comes with just weeks remaining on his contract at Anfield, with the likelihood being that he is among those released at the end of the season.

Klopp had expressed a desire for the club to extend Matip’s deal not long after his injury, but with the manager now set to depart this summer, that situation is less clear.

Liverpool will not confirm their released list – which will include Thiago, Mateusz Musialowski and possibly Adrian – until after the final game against Wolves on May 19.

There is still a chance talks are held with Matip over a possible extension, but it could be telling that a number of centre-backs have already been reliably linked with a move to Merseyside.

Centre-back targets

Willian Pacho (Eintracht Frankfurt) (Image: dpa/Alamy Live News)

Among the options considered are Eintracht Frankfurt’s Willian Pacho and Sporting CP’s Ousmane Diomande, while the club are also expected to push for a new deal for Virgil van Dijk.

Ibrahima Konate and Jarell Quansah are currently tussling for the first-choice spot alongside Van Dijk, with Klopp admitting that the youngster was currently ahead of Konate and Joe Gomez in the pecking order.

If Matip does leave after eight years, he will do so having made an indelible contribution to Liverpool’s success under Klopp.

Despite injuries, he has made 201 appearances for the Reds and lifted every trophy possible, and stands as one of the best free transfers in Premier League history.