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Munir unsure on future amid striker talk

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Liverpool to sign Joel Matip on free transfer once Schalke contract expires

Schalke defender Joel Matip will join Liverpool on a free transfer in the summer of 2016, the Bundesliga club have announced.

Matip, 24, will leave the club he joined at age 9 this summer when his current contract at the Veltins-Arena expires, and will join Jurgen Klopp's side on a free transfer.

The centre-back has played 181 league games for the Royal Blues and scored 17 goals. He has been a key player for coach Andre Breitenreiter and has not missed a minute of Bundesliga action this season.

"I have always said that I would only bid goodbye to Schalke to experience something fundamentally new," Matip told Schalke's official website. "That's why I never considered a switch within the [German] league.

"And even though the decision was definitely not easy, I am convinced that now is the time to make the next step.

"Schalke 04 will always remain a big family to me. I was proud to play for this club. I will give it my all in the upcoming months to get the best results from this season. That's what I owe the fans and the team."

He added on the club's YouTube channel: "It was about time to try something new, move abroad, join a traditional club in a super league, and I am looking forward to it."

Royal Blues sporting director Horst Heldt said the club had made extensive efforts to persuade Matip to remain in Gelsenkirchen but had to accept that he wanted to move on.

"We have held intensive talks since May 2015, both with Joel and his agent," he said. "It soon became evident that we were not able to influence factors that would tip the balance in the end." 

He added: "We are all sad today, but it was always clear Joel wanted to make a landmark decision for his career. We can't switch into Premier League with Schalke -- he would have stayed in that case."

Matip, born in the German town of Bochum, is a Cameroon international and represented the Indomitable Lions at the 2014 World Cup.

He has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Bundesliga, with one of his major strengths being the build-up play as well as his aerial power in both defence as well as in attack. This term, he has headed three goals from set-pieces for Schalke.

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