Wow. Just wow, what a day. Two days ago, most people felt that it would be a quiet deadline day yet again for Liverpool as they would opt to limp along with their walking wounded to the end of the season. Instead what we got was a flurry of moves, both incoming and outgoing.
It all started on Sunday as Liverpool were wrapping up their win against West Ham. News started to circulate that the Reds were close to finishing a deal for Ben Davies from Preston North End. It was a surprise for everyone, as the 25 year old has never been mentioned as being scouted, and has never played above the Championship level. As the rumors quickly firmed up, and the scouting reports from Preston North End fans rolled it, it looked to be a solid bit of business, especially after hearing that the Reds had gazumped Celtic for Davies’ signature.
THREAD: Ben Davies signs for Liverpool— oli (@gorn__) February 1, 2021
Quick, mobile, composed left footed defender. Reads danger early, defends calmly + is excellent with the ball at his feet.
LFC recruitment bang on again and he can still improve. RTs appreciated. #pnefc #LFC @TheAnfieldWrap @AnfieldIndex
As the final deal was confirmed, Liverpool have looked to get someone who has more speed than Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips as well as more first team experience for a minimal outlay (£500k up front, total deal for £1.6M). Liverpool also sent U23 defender Sepp Van den Berg the opposite way on loan. The Dutch center back now has an opportunity to push for first team minutes for a mid-table Championship team.
While getting a warm body in to provide support during Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis was nice, news broke that Liverpool were in for a second, much more established, center back as well. Initial whispers were that Liverpool were asking about Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car, but then quickly pivoted to a more familiar name, Ozan Kabak from Schalke 04. Those whispers became a roar that the Reds were finalizing a 6 month loan deal for the player who they had been scouting for over a year. The sticking point seemed to be whether there would be a requirement to buy at the end of the loan, or if Liverpool would just be given the option. Michael Edwards and co managed to get the final deal over the line with the total loan being £1 million (potentially rising to £1.5 million), and the option to buy for £18 million plus add-ons in June. There is no requirement to buy, which ostensibly makes this a 6-month trial period for a player with a lot of potential.
Of course, it couldn’t all be good news. Just after the Kabak deal was announced as final, Liverpool dropped the devastating news that Joel Matip had been ruled out for the season due to his ankle injury. Matip became the third of three senior team center backs who had their season curtailed by injury this season, joining Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the sidelines.
A final surprise was in store for Liverpool fans as it was announced that Jurgen Klopp cosplayer (and current Southampton manager) Ralph Hasenhüttl was interested in Takumi Minamino on loan for the rest of the season. Minamino has found minutes hard to come by for Liverpool, and with Diogo Jota soon to return from injury, there would be even less opportunity. With the deal finalized for a 6 month loan with no option to buy, Taki has a chance to get some minutes under his belt for a squad who play an attacking and pressing brand of football.
This is by far the busiest deadline day I can remember for Liverpool. On the face of it, it was a good day overall. With both incoming center backs, Liverpool spent a total of around £3 million to get them through the rest of this season.
At worst, in Davies they get a player who will likely be happy to be a solid 4th choice option for the club once the likes of Van Dijk, Gomez, and Matip come back from injuries. They also get to kick the tires with no commitment to buy on a 20-year-old with top tier starting experience to see if he’s a defender they want to invest in long term. And if Kabak isn’t the guy they want long term, Liverpool can continue their pursuit of a player like Ibrahima Konaté in the summer.
At best, Liverpool may have found a diamond in the rough in Davies who can be more than 4th choice, or a player they can at least flip for a solid profit. As for Ozan Kabak, he could prove to be a top tier defender that Liverpool can then scoop up for a cut-rate price at the end of the season if he meshes well with the team.
Still, even with all of the positives of the deals for Davies and Kabak, losing Joel Matip for the season feels like a net loss. It means that Fabinho likely remains in defense for the rest of the season (once he himself is fit again, that is). It also means Liverpool fans miss out on the wonderfully wholesome and memeable content that Matip provides that goes along with his stellar play when healthy.
What do you think of the deadline day deals? Are you happy with the defensive cover that was brought in, or deflated by the Matip news and Minamino departure?