The problem of finding a successor to Joel Matip at Liverpool could be resolved by Jürgen Klopp making another cheap transfer from the Bundesliga.
While Liverpool’s midfield is the focus this summer, Jürgen Klopp has another issue that needs to be resolved before the transfer window closes. Defense has that issue.
Liverpool has essentially used the same center-backs for years, with the exception of Ibrahima Konaté (added in the summer of 2021). But Klopp needs to make some changes because those center-backs are getting older and more than one of them has question marks.
Joel Matip may be the athlete who is most at risk from these modifications. At the end of the summer, he will turn 32, and with only one season left on his deal, it appears likely that he will be let go either this season or the one after after many seasons of crucial service at Anfield.
The next center-back Liverpool signs must be someone who is more or at least equally at ease playing on the left given the arrival of Konaté and Joe Gomez’s continued availability to play on the right side of the defense. Only Virgil van Dijk, who can perform in the role to the best of his ability right now, is available to Klopp.
Jonathan Tah has recently been connected to a transfer to Liverpool by 90min, and the German international might be an intriguing choice.
Tah possesses the essential qualities needed to play in Klopp’s high defensive line: he is tall, physically strong, and quick. For Bayer Leverkusen this season, he has primarily played as a right-sided center-back under Xabi Alonso, but throughout his career, he has also frequently played on the left side and is equally at ease there.
He’s got plenty of experience and knowledge to make him an excellent addition to the defense as a backup to Van Dijk, having made nearly 350 senior appearances at the age of 27. Tah, who is at ease with the ball as well, possesses the variety of passing skills necessary to succeed in the Liverpool system.
He has been on the club’s radar for a while, and despite occasional slumps in performance throughout his career, this season at Leverkusen has seen him flourish under Alonso.
He will only have two years left on his deal by the time summer rolls around, and after eight years at Leverkusen, it appears he is eager to take on a new challenge. According to Transfermarkt, he is valued at $21.4m (£17m/€20m), which is a bargain for a player of his caliber and would undoubtedly qualify as the kind of transfer fee that would qualify as a “cheap” acquisition even in the eyes of FSG.
At this price, Liverpool will have a hard time finding a defender who is a better fit and has the same kind of background and profile. Jörg Schmadtke, the club’s sporting director, may play a key role in luring Tah to Anfield because he is familiar with the Bundesliga market. The presence of Alonso also won’t hurt, even if it has a negligible impact.
This is a deal that is definitely worth following. A bargain from the Bundesliga would undoubtedly be a fitting way to replace Matip, even though his replacement would have to go a long way to go down as such an astute pick-up. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool handles the center-back situation in general.