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Jurgen Klopp and Michael Edwards drawing up Liverpool transfer plan to replace Joel Matip

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and technical director Michael Edwards are planning for their next centre-back acquisition to be the long-term successor to Joel Matip at Anfield, according to reports.

The Reds are unlikely to bring in a new central defender in the remaining two weeks of the January transfer window despite Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk all being out injured.



Matip has not started three consecutive Premier League matches since September 2019 and has been once again dogged by niggles this term.



He is facing a battle to be passed fit for Sunday's showdown with table-toppers Manchester United due to an adductor issue having missed Liverpool's last three outings.



The 29-year-old - who will turn 30 this August - has now missed over 70 matches across all competitions since arriving from Schalke on a free in the summer of 2016.

MUST READ: Liverpool sweating over fitness of Joel Matip ahead of Man Utd clash

His fitness struggles this season have left Klopp relying on defensive midfielder Fabinho as his No 1 defender while Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and even captain, and fellow midfielder, Jordan Henderson have deputised alongside the Brazilian.

There have been calls for Liverpool to strengthen their options with a new signing this month with Ozan Kabak, Sven Botman, Dayot Upamecano and Ben White among those liked by the Premier League champions.

But the Independent say apparent links to David Alaba are misplaced and the versatile Bayern Munich ace will not be moving to Merseyside in the summer when his deal in Germany expires.

However, Liverpool are expected to try and recruit a new centre-half in the summer transfer window with Dejan Lovren having not been replaced since he left for Zenit St Petersburg back in July.

It is claimed that the primary intention for any signing will be for them to succeed the injury-riddled Matip, who is under contract at the club until the summer of 2024.

Matip has played well for Liverpool whenever he has been needed to step into the team but simply has not been available enough.

And the acquisition of a fresh talent - be that Kabak, Botman, Upamecano, White or another alternative defender - will be with the idea for them to take Matip's spot as third choice in the coming years.

READ MORE Liverpool star to leave 'by Friday' as Klopp outlines transfer stance

Gomez and Van Dijk are likely to remain Liverpool's first-choice centre-back partnership provided they can return to pre-injury levels next season.

The England defender and Dutch talisman are unlikely to play again this season due to severe knee injuries but will hope to be fully fit by the time the 2020-21 campaign rolls around.

And just as Lovren did, any new defender will likely compete with Matip to be the first player to step in whenever needed for Gomez and Van Dijk.

Klopp, speaking back in November, made it clear how much he rates Matip's talents despite the Cameroonian's injury troubles on Merseyside.

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"Joel, since he was with us, he is incredible. He was incredible before, that's why we signed him," he said.

"He is an incredible football player, it's unbelievable how good he is. Yes, he was unlucky with injuries. Before he arrived here he had no injuries, played for Schalke pretty much through four, five or six years.

"Here, when it starts with one and you have to be lucky from a specific moment, but they were all different. The last injury he had, someone cut his tendon on the toe by swishing, it was in the Everton game last season.

"Then you are out and it looks like you are vulnerable or whatever, but it’s just something everybody would have had if you are in the situation. Now he’s back and hopefully for a long time.

"If he is in the best moment of his career, I don’t know, but I was really happy with the moment of his career he was in for the last four years. Super player."

Klopp will hope to have Matip to call upon against United this weekend given his high-level performances alongside Fabinho whenever he has been fit this term.


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