Premier League • England

Liverpool find replacement for Klopp favourite Slot won’t manage, with bargain bid to seal clever coup

Stuttgart centre-back Waldemar Anton

Liverpool are eyeing their replacement for Joel Matip

Liverpool are weighing up a move for a Joel Matip replacement who is the captain of his club, is available via a modest release clause and has already talked up the Reds when a former teammate moved to Anfield last year.

Liverpool confirmed earlier in June that Matip, 32, will not be offered a new contract. As such, the veteran centre-half will leave the Reds when his existing deal expires on June 30.

Matip will forever be remembered fondly on Merseyside and given he did not cost a fee when signed from Schalke way back in 2016, will go down as one of the greatest free agent pick-ups in Premier League history.

But all good things must come to an end and coming off the back of knee surgery, Liverpool’s decision-makers did not believe it wise to offer a new deal.

As such, new manager Arne Slot is a man light in his centre-back ranks. He does have four frontline options to choose from – Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Jarell Quansah – though Gomez has spent more time deputising at both full-back positions than he has at centre-half in recent years.

As such, Liverpool are understood to be in the market for a new centre-half and according to news out of Germany, they’ve fixed their gaze on Stuttgart.

Liverpool have reportedly lodged an enquiry into the signing of Stuttgart centre-back, Waldemar Anton.

Why Anton to Liverpool makes sense despite key concern

Aged 27 and turning 28 in July, the right-footed Anton is beyond the typical age range Liverpool’s recruitment team usually go for (22-25). However, the signing of Anton would make sense on several levels.

Firstly, Anton is a leader given he captains Stuttgart. The Reds have waved goodbye to plenty of experience over the last few seasons, with Matip and Thiago Alcantara soon to join Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Sadio Mane in departing.

Secondly, Anton can be signed via a relatively modest release clause worth €22.5m/£19m. Given Van Dijk and Konate are likely to be the starting pairing for Slot, it would make sense that Liverpool’s extra addition at centre-back isn’t one that will break the bank.

Finally, Anton – who has been included in Germany’s squad for Euro 2024 – has previously talked up the Reds.

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Anton succeeded Wataru Endo as Stuttgart captain when the Japanese midfielder left for Anfield last summer.

Responding to the move at the time, Anton referred to Liverpool as “one of the best clubs in the world.”

“Of course, we would all have preferred it if Wataru had stayed because he is simply great in terms of sport and personality,” said Anton.

“But he’s not [just] going anywhere, he’s going to Liverpool FC, one of the best clubs in the world. We understand he wanted to seize this opportunity and we wish him the best.”

Liverpool won’t have a move for Anton all their own way, with Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund understood to be courting the German defender too.

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