Liverpool were in a desperate situation in January when all three of their specialist central defenders in the first team squad were ruled out for the season with injuries. Schalke 04’s Ozan Kabak answered the Reds S.O.S, joining the defending Premier League champions on loan through the end of the season in a transfer deadline day deal.
After some initial struggles, the Turkish international has settled somewhat in the squad, coinciding with the Reds’ brief upturn form despite recently bowing out of the Champions League quarterfinals against Real Madrid and dropping crucial points in the league against Leeds and Newcastle.
The 21-year-old will be available for as low as £18m in the summer and is presumably eager to extend his stay on Merseyside rather than rejoin relegation-bound Schalke at the end of the season.
He recently revealed the role of injured Virgil Van Dijk, one of the players he was brought in to stand in for, in helping him acclimate to the challenge of helping his side push for a top four finish:
“Our friend Virgil, for example, is so good at this job,” he told the Liverpool website.
“He does it very well because he’s a really experienced guy and he knows this football. So I tried to do my best and game by game I think I got better on this.”
The Ballon d’Or finalist has been a role model for Kabak, even prior to his Liverpool move, with the Turk expressing gratitude in receiving a signed jersey from the fellow defender
“[Van Dijk] gave me small tips about our football mentality. I think defenders understand each other better and he came with some small tips about how we play or what I need to do. It helps [my] game.