Who is Joel Matip? We profile the Schalke defender who will join Liverpool in summer

Joel Matip reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Schalke 04 v SV Darmstadt 98, on August 22, 2015 in Gelsenkirchen

Schalke defender Joel Matip will join Liverpool at the end of the season but who is he?

Matip, who is out of contract with the Bundesliga side this summer, will join the Reds on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Liverpool are thought to have beaten off competition from France for the 24-year-old so what will he bring? Here's all you need to know about the player...

Profile

Name: Joel Matip

Age: 24

Place of Birth: Bochum, Germany

Also See:

Club: Schalke 04

Position: Centre-back

National team: Cameroon

Background

Matip scored his first goal for Schalke on his professional debut against Bayern Munich in 2009
Image: Matip scored his first goal for Schalke on his professional debut against Bayern Munich in 2009

A product of the VFL Bochum academy, Matip's transition to professional football began with Schalke 04 when he started with their second team in the Regionalliga - the fourth tier of German football.  He made his professional debut aged 18 and made four appearances for Schalke's second team.

Matip's big break came less than a month later in November 2009 when he grabbed headlines by scoring an equaliser against Louis Van Gaal's Bayern Munich on his debut for the first team. His performance - and goal - earned him the man of the match award.

Matip went on to make 20 appearances in the 2009/10 season, playing predominantly as a midfield anchor. The following season, his versatility led to him playing a variety of roles, including full-back and centre-back.

In 2011/12, Matip played at centre-back alongside Benedikt Howedes and since then the Cameroon international has been a regular fixture in the team, making over 200 appearances in all competitions. 

Style of play

Matip leads Schalke in aerial clearances this season
Image: Matip leads Schalke in aerial clearances this season

Matip has worked his way up to become one of the Bundesliga's most respected central defenders in his seven years in Gelsenkirchen - renowned for his tackling ability but also for being comfortable on the ball.

This campaign, the Cameroonian has scored four times - three of them headers from corners - as well as assisting three further goals, in his 26 games in all competitions. 

He has made 21 appearances in the Bundesliga this term, where he makes an average of five clearances and three interceptions a game, according to WhoScored.

His pace and mobility mean he would likely be able to work well in a high line, a trait which Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will no doubt have noted.

And he appears to have a cool head if these numbers are anything to go by: just two yellow cards in the Bundesliga and one red in his entire career.

What they say about Matip…

Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has been trying to keep Matip until the end of the season
Image: Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has been trying to keep Matip until the end of the season

Former Schalke and Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder:

"Joel is free. If the interest is from England and he wants to have an experience abroad, then Liverpool is a super destination for him. Jurgen knows he can work very well with him. For Joel it would be an easier entry into a new country and a new environment."

Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt on losing Matip to Liverpool: "His decision is nothing against Schalke. He wants to try something new. We have held extensive discussions with both the player and his agent since May. It became clear very quickly that certain decisive factors meant we would not be able to influence his decision."

Heldt on Matip's agreed Liverpool switch: "We have since May last year had many intensive discussions, both with Joel and his advisor. It was soon clear that factors would be decisive for Joel's decision that we ultimately could not influence."

What he says…

Matip on his versatility: "I was playing for the youth team when my coach Norbert Elgert had the idea to put me up front. I played there for six months and it was a success. I even scored with my feet - not just my head. Then after being out for a long time with injury, I went straight into the senior team, where I was once again used as a defender because it's what I know best."

Matip on joining Liverpool: "I have always said that there is only one reason I would leave Schalke - to experience something completely new. For that reason, I never considered a move to another Bundesliga club. Even though the decision wasn't easy, I am certain that this is the right moment for me to take the next step in my career."

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