Having just turned 21 and having spent a half-season at Liverpool where he looked promising, many would have expected the Reds to trigger their £18M purchase option on centre half Ozan Kabak.
However, according to multiple journalists with ties to the club today, a final decision has been made and Kabak will be returned to Schalke, who are expected to seek a permanent home for the Turkish international this summer.
This news comes as the club near the completion of a deal to instead bring Ibrahima Konaté in from RB Leipzig, with the 22-year-old expected to cost around twice the purchase option the club held on Kabak.
It is perhaps harsh on Kabak, who looked solid for the Reds after a short settling in period, but the player’s relative lack of height and pace always meant he didn’t fit the club’s ideal template at the position.
As a result, Liverpool will expect to enter next season with a defensive core of Virgil van Dijk, Konaté, and Joe Gomez. For the moment, that trio looks likely to be rounded out by Joël Matip and cult hero Nat Phillips.
However, if either Matip or Phillips were to depart, it would likely result in the purchase of a second player at the position to avoid a situation like this season where Fabinho was pressed into service.