Schalke defender Joel Matip has agreed to join Liverpool this summer, the Bundesliga outfit officially confirmed on 15 February. The versatile German-born Cameroon international is out of contract in June and will now move to Anfield on a free transfer, following weeks of speculation regarding his future.
In a statement to confirm the news, the club's general manager Horst Heldt said: "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."
A product of the club's youth academy, Matip has spent almost 16 years at Schalke, making his senior debut in 2009. The 24-year-old, who was part of the squad that beat MSV Duisburg back in May 2011 to claim the DFB Pokal, has made over 200 appearances for the seven-time German champions and claims he never thought about joining a domestic rival.
"I have always said that there is only one reason I would leave Schalke – to experience something completely new," he revealed. "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."
Matip becomes the third player signed by Jurgen Klopp since the Borussia Dortmund favourite succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager back in October 2015. During the recent January transfer window, promising midfielder Marko Grujic was signed for £5.1m ($7.3m) before being immediately loaned back to Red Star Belgrade for the remainder of the 2015/16 season.
Following an injury epidemic that has seen Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure all sidelined at various times, the Reds also completed a deal to take Steven Caulker on loan from Queens Park Rangers following the well-travelled centre-back's disappointing stint at Southampton.
Liverpool have also provided their own confirmation of Matip's arrival. Speaking via their official website, the club said: "Liverpool Football Club can confirm they have reached an agreement to sign Cameroon defender Joel Matip. The 24-year-old will join the Reds in the summer following the conclusion of his current deal with FC Schalke.
"Matip represented German clubs SC Weitmar 45 and VfL Bochum at youth level before moving to Schalke in 2000. He made his senior debut for the Gelsenkirchen club in 2009. The centre-back has 27 caps for Cameroon and featured for his country at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals."