Liverpool defender set for Serie A switch as Rome rivals battle it out for his signature

As the opening of the transfer window looms, Italian football giants Lazio and Roma are poised to engage in a tug-of-war for the signature of Liverpool defender Joel Matip, who is set to become a free agent this summer.

The 32-year-old has emerged as a target for both Serie A clubs despite being sidelined since December due to a season-ending knee injury.

He limped out of the Premier League thriller against Fulham back in December, with manager Jurgen Klopp later confirming that his centre-back had suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

The Cameroonian, who has the advantage of holding an EU passport, comes with a wealth of experience, having played at the highest level with the Reds since his move from German giants Schalke 04 in the summer of 2016.

Naturally, the allure of securing him without a transfer fee has sparked from both sides of the Italian capital.

Matip contract talks to start soon

According to reports from Corriere della Sera (via Calciomercato.com), both Roma and Lazio are gearing up to initiate talks with Matip in the coming weeks.

The arrival of new coaches at both clubs (Igor Tudor at Lazio and Daniele De Rossi at Roma) has injected fresh impetus into their transfer strategies as they look to rejuvenate their squads after disappointing campaigns.

Both will be looking to mount stronger challenges next season and believe that Matip could become a defensive linchpin upon which they can build a solid foundation.

However, any potential deal is likely contingent on the clubs securing European qualification, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the negotiations.

Once a cornerstone of Liverpool's defence under Jurgen Klopp, injuries and a change of manager at Anfield have now seemingly brought the curtain down on the popular defender's time at the club - despite his willingness to extend his stay.

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