Fulham Reportedly Eye Liverpool Defender Joel Matip for January Transfer

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 06: Joel Matip of Liverpool in action during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between Red Star Belgrade and Liverpool at Rajko Mitic Stadium on November 06, 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Fulham are reportedly set to go head-to-head with Fenerbahce for Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip in January. 

According to Turkish outlet A Spor (h/t TalkSport), Fenerbahce—under director of football Damien Comolli, who performed the same role at Anfield between 2010 and 2012are hoping to land him but find themselves in competition with Fulham.

The Cottagers replaced Slavisa Jokanovic with Claudio Ranieri on Wednesday, and they want Matip to help with their survival push.

Improving Fulham's defence will be a priority for the Italian. Having failed to keep clean sheet in 12 matches, they have lost nine games and shipped 31 goals, the worst record in the Premier League, so Matip could help them there.

He joined Liverpool from Schalke in 2016 and established himself as the Reds' best centre-back. However, after Joe Gomez's emergence and Virgil van Dijk's capture in January, as well as some spells out with injury, the former Cameroon international is no longer a regular for the Reds.

Matip has started just three matches this season, only one of which was in the Premier League, and Dejan Lovren has also established himself ahead of the former Schalke man in the pecking order.

Football writer Jack Sear believes the 27-year-old is still a useful squad player for Liverpool, though fellow writer Karl Matchett is less convinced:

Jack Sear @JackSear

Brilliant header from Matip. A real good option for us if he can stay fit.

Karl Matchett @karlmatchett

No Matip even on the bench, bit of an indication of how others have grown while he has... not

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is adamant Matip would be a starter almost anywhere else, though, per Goal's Neil Jones:

Neil Jones @neiljonesgoal

Klopp: "Joel Matip would play in 97% of Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, I'm quite sure of that, and he was not in the squad the other night." #LFC

While his Liverpool career has not gone the way he would have hoped over the past year or so, Matip is still a useful player to have around, as he's a physically robust defender and reliable distributor from the back.

He would likely be able to improve Fulham's back line with his presence, and he could be attainable given his status as a back-up at Anfield.

Much will depend on whether Klopp will be happy with the level of cover he has if Matip leaves given Ragnar Klavan left for Cagliari in the summer.