Premier League • England

Fabrizio Romano backtracks on major Liverpool transfer claim, with Klopp intervention behind surprise U-turn

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

A Liverpool star heavily tipped to be included in an Anfield clear-out this summer may be offered a reprieve, with Fabrizio Romano going against the claims his race is run.

Sweeping changes are expected in Liverpool’s squad this summer. Some have already seen their exits confirmed, such as Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian will depart as a free agent at season’s end.

Elsewhere, Arthur Melo (loan expiry), Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (free agency) should all depart. James Milner could bring the midfield exits to four if Klopp’s calls for a 12-month extension aren’t heeded by Liverpool’s decision-makers.

The Sun have tipped right-back Calvin Ramsay to leave on loan. At centre-half, Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Joel Matip could all go.

Rounding out the potential exodus is goalkeeping pair Adrian and Caoimhin Kelleher. Adrian’s contract expires this summer, while Kelleher craves first-team football and that can only be achieved by leaving Liverpool given the presence of Alisson Becker.

Of those mentioned, the most surprising exit would arguably be Joel Matip. The 31-year-old has been a high-level operator for the Reds when fit and ran Virgil van Dijk close in the running for Liverpool’s best centre-half last term.

However, his form has fallen off a cliff in the current campaign and with a contract expiring in 2024, an exit has been touted by multiple outlets.

Indeed, Goal previously reported there are ‘growing whispers from within the club’ Matip will be turfed out at season’s end. Football Insider later echoed those claims and subsequently cited a £10m-£15m price tag.

Fabrizio Romano indirectly swelled the speculation when insisting a new centre-half is wanted at Anfield this summer.

Part of the reasoning behind the Reds pulling the plug on their Jude Bellingham pursuit is the need to perform major surgery on their squad, with additions at centre-back and full-back wanted on top of at least two midfield arrivals.

However, according to a fresh update from Romano, Matip might not be among those ousted this summer.

READ MORE: Newcastle intend to make offer for Liverpool defensive target whose value has doubled within a year

Liverpool having second thoughts on Matip exit?

Via Caught Offside, the trusted journalist stressed that despite Matip’s downturn in form this year, he continues to be highly thought of by Klopp.

As such, Romano went against the narrative Matip’s race is run and suggested there may still be a role – albeit likely a reduced one – in the first-team.

“Despite rumours to the contrary, I’m not sure Liverpool are ready to let Joel Matip go,” said Romano.

“He has always been appreciated by Klopp, on and off the pitch. So he could still have a role to play at Anfield.

“These kind of decisions will be made in the next weeks.”

Liverpool’s strongest centre-back pairing at present is unquestionably Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate.

Joe Gomez is unlikely to be leaving any time soon having signed a deal running until 2027 last July. Retaining Matip too would allow Klopp to channel more of his funds into the all-important midfield additions if a centre-back signing was put off until 2024.

At that stage, Matip will be free to leave for nothing. However, given he has a chequered injury history and is already the wrong side of 30, Liverpool wouldn’t be missing out on much of a transfer fee anyway.

READ MORE: Fabrizio Romano names Man Utd, Liverpool as best-placed clubs to sign Brighton star, with transfer ‘guaranteed’