Kabak Could be the Long-Term Partner to van Dijk that Liverpool Have Been Looking For

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Why Did Liverpool Sign Kabak From Schalke?

So far this season, Liverpool have been significantly hampered with injuries in the centre-back area, as Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have all been ruled out with lengthy injuries that could see all three miss the rest of the season. This has seen the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho play as centre-backs on a regular basis.

Following Liverpool’s recent 3-1 away win at Tottenham, it was confirmed that Matip would be ruled out for the rest of the campaign, which has seen the Anfield club delve into the transfer market for two new centre-backs in the shape of Preston North End’s Ben Davies and Schalke’s Ozan Kabak.

Barrow-born Davies has joined for an undisclosed fee which is rumoured to be in the region of £2m, with Sepp van den Berg going to Deepdale on loan as part of the deal.

Meanwhile, Turkish international Kabak has been signed on loan from Bundesliga outfit Schalke, with an option to buy at the end of the season which is rumoured to be between £20-£30m.

In this article, we are going to take a look at how Kabak lines up compared to van Dijk’s regular centre-back partner Gomez.

Liverpool's Premier League Odds

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LIVERPOOL TO WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE @ 4/1

Kabak vs Gomez

Despite Schalke sitting at the bottom of the Bundesliga, Kabak’s statistics do read well from his 14 Bundesliga appearances this season, as he averages 1.2 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 3.9 clearances and 0.8 blocks per game.

What does have to be considered when reading these statistics is that Schalke do play a much more defensive game, as they have just eight points from 19 league games and have conceded 49 goals, with West Brom being the only team to have a worse defensive record than them in Europe’s top five leagues, conceding one more.

It must be also be said that Schalke are a team who are low on confidence in general, as they have scored just 15 goals in 19 league games, of which four of these came in their last league win against Hoffenheim at the Veltins Arena early last month, which incidentally marked their first Bundesliga win in 30 matches, just one game off the all-time record run set by Tasmania Berlin in 1965/66.

In comparison, to Kabak, Gomez has started just six league matches this season and has averaged 0.4 tackles, 0.6 interceptions, and four clearances and 0.3 blocks per game.

Kabak’s statistics are significantly better albeit in a worse team, but perhaps the 20-year-old could be the long-term answer to partner van Dijk at Anfield, as his game style is more aggressive, as well as the fact that Liverpool often like to press high up the pitch and play a high line.

One thing that is also noticeable is that the 20-year-old Turkey international is also a good ball-playing centre-back, as he averages 0.3 key passes per game in the Bundesliga, which might not sound much, but it is a valid contribution, as the likes of Gomez has 0.1 per Premier League appearance this season.

The Schalke centre-back also averages 49 completed passes per game, which is around 62% of the 79.4 that the former Charlton Athletic defender averages, although Schalke have only averaged 46% possession per game in the Bundesliga, whilst Liverpool typically average 64% as they tend to use Jurgen Klopp’s notorious gegenpress tactical style to force the opposing teams into mistakes, in order to win the ball back more quickly.

Liverpool's Champions League Odds

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LIVERPOOL TO WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE @ 6/1

Will they sign him permanently? Could he partner van Dijk?

All signs point to Kabak being a success at Anfield, however, he alike Davies is going to have to prove himself to be the real deal in what could be a tough period for Kabak to settle in, as notoriously many January signings have found it hard to adapt from life abroad to that in England.

The Turkish man’s arrival is likely to see Henderson move back into Liverpool’s midfield three, and see the Schalke loanee partner Fabinho in centre-back which would actually provide the 20-year-old with plenty of protection around him in their current setup, however, with the Anfield club expected to go far in the Champions League, Kabak will be expected to excel and help to lead the line of defence as he did at Schalke if Liverpool are to make the transfer permanent.

If Kabak impresses as he is expected to, then logically there would be no reason for Liverpool to not pay the rumoured £20m-£30m fee for the centre-back, as even in the current financial climate, that would be an astute deal for a player that could foreseeably play at the top level for around a decade if he lives up to his potential.

Klopp was said to have wanted a longer-term centre-back to come into the club, and with Matip persistently being hampered by injuries, perhaps Kabak is on paper the answer to challenge Gomez for the centre-back position next to van Dijk.


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