Liverpool are on the hunt for a new centre-back following the departure of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg last week and they may have found the ideal replacement amid fresh reports from Germany.
What’s the word?
According to Sport Bild, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp wants Schalke 04 defender Ozan Kabak at Anfield next season and the club could make their move this summer.
They claim that the young Turkish international has a release clause of €45m (£41m) but that isn’t activated until 2021, meaning the Premier League champions can freely negotiate with the Bundesliga outfit over a potential switch.
The 20-year-old only joined Schalke in the summer, his third club in as many years, after former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner paid Stuttgart’s €15m (£13.7m) clause.
Klopp could well have another VVD on his hands given Kabak’s own ambitions. He’s previously expressed his desire to become one of the best in the world “like Virgil van Dijk” who’s his idol.
In the German top-flight this campaign, the central defensive starlet has averaged 3.6 clearances, 1.4 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 0.8 dribbles per game, via WhoScored. Throw in a passing success rate above 80% and you’ve got a pretty decent ball-playing option there.
Kabak has also been lauded as “one of the most promising young defenders in Europe” by former Stuttgart head of sport Michael Reschke whilst Thomas Hitzlsperger dubbed him “incredible,” “astonishing” and a “role model.”
At 6 foot 1, he’s not as imposing as the Dutch colossus, but his height hasn’t stopped him from averaging 2.9 aerial duels won per appearance this season.
In fact, the Turk has managed more tackles and interceptions than VVD this season – might he be the perfect partner?
Michael Edwards must open the chequebook to land him this summer, especially as they could negotiate a fee below that release clause – otherwise, the Reds could come to rue that decision later down the line.
AND in other news, Liverpool eyeing £55m raid for Steven Gerrard-like midfielder…