Liverpool CULT HERO returns to training ahead of make-or-break summer

In an update that will warm the hearts of many Liverpool fans, veteran centre-back Joel Matip has taken another significant step forward in his recovery from a long-term ACL injury.

Matip's journey to recovery has been closely followed by fans since he required surgery after Liverpool's 4-3 victory over Fulham at the start of December.

The towering centre-back was initially expected to miss the remainder of the season, but manager Jurgen Klopp revealed at the end of March that Matip had begun running on the outdoor pitches of the AXA Training Centre for the first time since the setback.

Now, in a positive development, Matip was spotted working with a ball again during Friday's training session, albeit not as part of the main group.

Matip's final weeks as a Liverpool player

However, the Cameroonian now faces a race against time to see if he'll wear a Red shirt again. With his contract nearing its end, and just two games left of the season to play, the likelihood of his next game being for Liverpool remains minimal.

While Klopp had expressed a desire for the club to extend Matip’s deal shortly after his injury, the managerial transition this summer has clouded the situation for the 32-year-old.

The decision regarding Matip's future will likely be revealed after Liverpool's final game against Wolves on 19 May, alongside the list of released players, which may include other notable names such as Thiago Alcantara and Mateusz Musialowski.

New centre-backs, a priority for Liverpool this summer

Amid the uncertainty surrounding his contract, Liverpool have been linked with several centre-back options ahead of the summer, including Willian Pacho from Eintracht Frankfurt and Sporting CP's Goncalo Inacio, plus Feyenoord's versatile operators, Lutsharel Geertruida and Mats Wieffer.

Additionally, negotiations for a new deal for captain Virgil van Dijk are expected to get under way.

If Matip does depart after eight illustrious years at Anfield, he will forever go down as a cult hero.

Despite battling injuries, Matip has made 201 appearances for Liverpool, winning every possible trophy and establishing himself as one of the Premier League's best-ever free transfers.

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