Liverpool: Ozan Kabak in profile
Liverpool finally addressed their defensive crisis with the late signings of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak just hours before the end of the mid-season transfer window. The Reds were initially hesitant to dip into the market at short notice, but Joel Matip’s season-ending injury provoked a last-ditch attempt from transfer chief Michael Edwards to bolster the club’s ranks ahead of the business end of the campaign.
Kabak was sounded out and promptly recruited on a temporary basis until the end of the campaign, with Liverpool having the option to make his move permanent in the summer for a fee in the region of £18million.
Negotiations with Schalke ran down to the wire before the 20-year-old’s signing was formally announced only an hour before Monday’s 11pm deadline.
The main hurdle for Liverpool was convincing the Bundesliga outfit to include the option to buy, as opposed to an obligation.
Schalke stuck to their guns for a large part of the negotiation process, but eventually backed down and agreed to the Merseyside club’s demands.
The role of Edwards in the deal was pivotal as the Reds sporting director threatened to pull out of talks unless his club were given a choice over Kabak’s permanent signing, according to The Athletic.
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The report claims that Schalke reluctantly accepted the proposal as they knew Kabak had his heart set on the move, with the youngster said to be a huge fan of Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool’s thinking behind the temporary switch was essentially to try before they buy, with Van Dijk, Matip and Joe Gomez all set to return from injury before the start of next season.
The club are said to have been tracking Kabak for some time, even launching an enquiry in November which resulted in the Reds being quoted a fee of £25million for the player’s services.
Liverpool were not keen on doing business at that price, only renewing their interest when it became apparent that he would not command such a figure.
Jurgen Klopp’s fondness of Kabak was influenced by a glowing recommendation from close pal and former Schalke head coach David Wagner.
The Reds boss expressed his delight after capturing the defender’s signature, claiming he is excited to see what Kabak can bring to the table during his five months on Merseyside.
“Yes, Dave [Wagner] was already very, very positive about him,” Klopp told the club website. “He came very young to Germany and everybody was clear he was a massive talent.
“He is only 20 now. He plays in his second club [in Germany]; he is at Schalke and unfortunately they are in a bad position at the moment.
“For him, I think it’s a really good moment to make the move because, like each player in the world, you need a stable team around you and that’s what we can deliver.
“We deliver a stable team and you can play your position, you don’t have to be 20 with pretty much everything on the pitch and not allowed to make mistakes anymore.
“He’s really a big, big talent and we are really looking forward to working with him.”
The addition of Kabak capped off a frantic deadline day for the defending Premier League champions who also sanctioned a last-minute move for winger Takumi Minamino to join high-flying Southampton until the end of the season.
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