Liverpool complete shock £2m signing of Preston centre back Ben Davies as Jurgen Klopp finally shores up his injury-hit backline in quest to get title defence back on track
- Liverpool have made the first of two potential deadline day defensive signings
- Injuries to Joel Matip and Fabinho have prompted Jurgen Klopp to strengthen
- The Reds opted for Davies after the Preston man received an offer from Celtic
- Schalke defender Ozan Kabak is also close to being named as a Liverpool player
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Liverpool have completed the signing of Preston centre back Ben Davies.
The 25-year-old was undergoing a medical on Monday before signing for an initial fee believed to be in the region of £500,000, plus structured add-ons.
Jurgen Klopp is also closing in on Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, with the two clubs close to agreeing an initial £1million loan fee with the option to buy for £18m at the end of the season.
Liverpool have completed the £2m capture of Preston centre-back Ben Davies
Davies signs on the dotted line after completing his shock move to the champions
Davies, who will wear the No 28 shirt, admitted he is delighted to seal his move to Anfield
Preston will benefit from a 20 per cent sell-on clause on any profit Liverpool make on any further transfer of Davies and also any England appearance.
Davies, who will wear the No 28 shirt, told the Liverpool website: ‘I’m obviously delighted to be here.
‘It’s a huge opportunity. Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it and learn off the players [at the club].
‘I’ve never actually been to Anfield and I haven’t had a look around yet. I had a quick look out and had a look at the pitch and it looks like carpet, which obviously you’d expect.
‘I haven’t actually walked out of the tunnel yet, so I’m looking forward to that. Just to be in this kind of atmosphere is brilliant.’
Klopp was full of praise for Davies, and believes he has the potential to improve at Anfield: ‘What I like about Ben is it just shows that each situation creates opportunities. I think it’s probably clear that in a normal transfer window, without any issues, we would not look at Preston if there’s a player for us or something like that.
Davies takes a look at Liverpool’s list of honours as he is given a tour of Anfield
Davies gets a first look around Liverpool’s home as he is unveiled on Monday night
‘It’s not really likely. But since we saw him and since our situation got clearer and clearer – the problems we had – when we saw him we got really excited about it and thought, “Wow.”
‘He’s a boy who played his whole life for Preston, is around the corner pretty much. We see the potential really. We see the quality and we see the potential as well because he’s 25 and there’s a lot to come for him. I love a lot about his play.
‘He’s a really good footballer, looks like a proper leader in this Preston team, good in challenges, looks football smart, can play different positions because he played in a back three and a back four and all these things.
‘That makes him really interesting so I’m really looking forward to working with him. I know for him it’s an opportunity and I see it exactly the same for us, that it’s a really good thing to do.
Jurgen Klopp is looking for a centre back after several injuries in that area so far this season
Defender Ozan Kabak also looks set to move to Anfield from Bundesliga bottom club Schalke
North End will also get the 19-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg on loan for free, with the first option for a loan next season should he start a certain percentage of matches in the current campaign.
The cut-price deal may seem at odds with Liverpool’s status as Premier League champions but it is viewed within the club as a ‘Ragnar Klavan-type’ signing, the Estonia captain who moved to Anfield in 2016 for £4.2m and made 39 appearances over two seasons as a reliable back-up.
On Friday, manager Klopp said no club would sell him an £80m centre back even if one was available and clubs, well aware of the Reds’ problems at the back, were quoting ‘crazy money’ for players.
Liverpool’s resources in central defence are currently stretched to the limit with Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez unlikely to play again this season due to serious knee injuries, while the injury-plagued Joel Matip limped off at half-time against Tottenham with an ankle ligament problem which the club are yet to diagnosis the extent of. Fabinho has also missed the last two matches with what Klopp called a ‘minor muscular injury’.
The Brazilian, who has stood in at the back for the majority of matches this season, will not return until Sunday’s visit of Manchester City, with fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson filling in at the back for the last four league matches.
Davies, a left-footed centre back, was in the final six months of his contract and it had been expected he would sign a pre-agreement with Celtic to join them in the summer.
Klopp played Jordan Henderson and Nat Phillips in central defence in the win over West Ham
However, it emerged the reigning Scottish champions, currently 23 points behind Rangers at the top of the table, were planning to make a deadline-day offer to Preston and that prompted Liverpool to make their move.
Fellow Premier League sides Burnley and Sheffield United were also interested but Preston did not want to sell to their local rivals, and it is understood the player was not interested in either club due to their style of football.
Bournemouth, six points ahead of Preston in sixth place in the Championship, also wanted Davies as part of a double deal with Ben Pearson but only managed to sign the Lilywhites’ midfielder last week.
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