Schalke defender Ozan Kabak completed his marquee move Liverpool on deadline day, almost two years after being linked with moves to Manchester United and Arsenal.

Kabak, 20, has already packed quite a lot into his young career and has now joined the Premier League champions to team up with one of his idols.

Turkish centre-back Kabak joined Liverpool on deadline day


Turkish centre-back Kabak joined Liverpool on deadline day

With Jurgen Klopp’s men suffering a defensive injury crisis this season, it was only a matter of time before a new centre-back joined.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have been long-term absentees, while even stand-in Joel Matip has had his issues, with midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho called into the backline to help out.

Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have also lent a hand when needed but Kabak seems to be considered the long-term solution, and could give the club a replacement for Dejan Lovren who left last summer.

Below, talkSPORT.com gives an in-depth run down of all you need to know about Kabak…

Ozan Kabak – 2020/21

Age: 20

Club: Schalke

Position: Centre-back

Nationality: Turkish

Bundesliga apperances – 14

Starts – 14

Clean sheets – 1

Tackles per game – 1.2

Interceptions per game – 0.9

Clearances per game – 3.9

Aerials won per game – 4.1

Pass success – 87.9 per cent

What’s the deal?

Arsenal and Manchester United were both keen on signing Kabak back in 2019, with Tottenham also maintaining a tentative interest in his services.

Bayern Munich were also following the progress of the stylish defender, but in the end he joined Schalke that summer six months after leaving Galatasaray in his homeland for Stuttgart.

Things haven’t gone well for Schalke recently, but despite their difficulties Kabak remained a prospect top clubs have kept an eye on.

In matches the defender has played in, the Bundesliga outfit have conceded an average of 2.49 goals per game but they see the benefit of selling off their talented young star as they attempt to rebuild their squad.

Initially, he will join Liverpool for a £2.5million loan fee with an option to buy him in the summer.

Club career so far?

The Ankara native joined the Galatasaray youth academy at the age of just 11.

Kabak would go on to make 14 appearances for the Turkish giants, 13 of which came in the 2018/19 campaign prior to his mid-season switch to Stuttgart.

There he won the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Season award despite making just 15 league appearances.

His talent stood out immediately and within six months he had been signed by Schalke for £13.5m after his release clause was activated.

Kabak only joined the Bundesliga side from Galatasaray after a handful of apperances

Kabak only joined the Bundesliga side from Galatasaray after a handful of apperances

Across a season-and-a-half, Kabak has made 40 Bundesliga appearances in royal blue but the club have struggled badly.

In the 2019/20 campaign they failed to win any games after a mid-January victory over Borussia Monchengladbach.

They just about survived thanks to their good form at the start of that season, but the winless run continued into the current campaign.

Between January 18, 2020 and January 8, 2021, Schalke failed to win a single league game, before a triumph over Hoffenheim signalled the end of the disastrous run.

They are currently bottom of the Bundesliga table, however, and nine points from safety.

Kabak played with Benjamin Pavard at Stuttgart

Kabak played with Benjamin Pavard at Stuttgart

Kabak, though, did not help matters for Schalke as he was suspended for five games having been caught spitting at Ludwig Augustinsson last September, while he was also handed a £13,235 (€15,000) fine for the incident.

International experience?

Kabak won 50 youth caps for Turkey, and is now playing for the senior side.

He was called up to the main squad for the first time in March 2019 and became a regular in 2020, making six appearances, bringing his total to seven overall.

What is being said about him?

“Ozan is one of the best defensive talents in Europe,’ said former Schalke head coach David Wagner.

“Everyone knows which teams made every effort to try and sign him. He’s certainly one of the most talented defenders of his age in Europe.”

Wagner is an old friend of Jurgen Klopp and the current Reds boss has revealed how he got the lo-down on his new defender.

“Yes, Dave was already very, very positive about him,” Klopp said. “He came very young to Germany and everybody was clear he was a massive talent.

“Dave always said he will be a future captain of a team. He is a proper personality.

Schalke defender Ozan Kabak

Getty Images – Getty

Kabak has been linked with Manchester United and Arsenal in the past

“When you go abroad in that young age, to another country and play for other clubs, he could have played in Turkey in each club he wants. Goes then to Stuttgart, goes then to Schalke. He could have gone anywhere but he wanted to make football steps and we are a proper football step for him.

“He wants to learn but he can deliver already.”

Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger knew his talents mentally and technically.

“It’s incredible how worldy-wise he is for his age,” he said. “It’s astonishing. I see him every day and am amazed at how he mature he is. He wants to know everything; he wants to learn German right away and understand everything. That’s the kind of attitude we need. He’s already a role model, despite his age.”

Gonzalo Castro, a teammate at Stuttgart, added: “He’s very laid back, very calm and doesn’t let the club’s current situation [in a relegation fight] bother him. He’s definitely got the talent to play at a big club.”

The Bundesliga’s official website compared his reading of the game and tenacity in the tackle to Sergio Ramos, while Kabak himself has admitted he admires the Real Madrid ace, along with Raphael Varane and Virgil van Dijk.

Lionel Messi and Kabak’s idol Sergio Ramos clash at the Bernabeu

Getty Images

Lionel Messi and Kabak’s idol Sergio Ramos clash at the Bernabeu

Speaking about his own strengths, Kabak highlighted his aerial talents: “I would say my heading ability is good, because I scored a lot with my head before, at Galatasaray. I have good physicality, like pace and jumping.”

Meanwhile, on his love for Liverpool’s star defender Van Dijk, he added: “As a footballer? I like his style and how he plays, so I can say he’s my football idol.”

Meanwhile, European football expert Andy Brassell has revealed all about Liverpool’s new signing.

He told talkSPORT: “It’s been a really rough season, a difficult couple of years for him, really.

“Kabak has got so much ability. When he came through toe Galatasaray youth academy, and they don’t produce players as prolifically as they used to, he settled straight away.

“He looked a man straight away, a real leader, brilliant, snaps into the tackle, he’s pretty strong, he’s fast enough and is someone who can really martial a defence.

Andy Brassell gives the lowdown on Schalke’s Ozan Kabak – the defender who Liverpool hope can solidify their defence in Virgin Van Dijk absence

“But then because Galatasaray needed the money they sold him to Stuttgart at 18 years old, he ended up being the leader there because they had no leaders, they get relegated, they then sold him to Schalke and it’s been a very, very tough time for him the whole time he’s been there.

“Especially this season, it’s been hard to take anything good from it because they just lose every week. That, to me is the concern.

“The ability is there, but if Liverpool are expecting someone who is going to make an impact straight away, he has been in teams that have lost most weeks over the last two years, and I think that’s started to chip way at him a little bit. So he needs a little bit of work.

“The other thing when you look at the deal happening now, on deadline day – why didn’t Liverpool get it done before? Schalke have set the same price for the whole month and they’ve needed the money the whole time.”


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