Ozan Kabak joins Liverpool
In recent years, Liverpool have not usually been known for making rash signings on deadline day but 2021 saw the Reds forced to go into the market when they usually keep quiet. A season-ending injury to Joel Matip saw Jurgen Klopp's side have no fit senior centre-backs, so they decided to make a splash in the market by signing not one, but two defenders. Ben Davies is an experienced head from Preston, who should be a reliable option at the back, but the real intrigue is their acquisition of Turkey international Ozan Kabak, who arrives on an initial loan from Schalke. The 20-year-old has been on Liverpool's radar for over a year and had a price tag of €30 million last year, but with Schalke in dire financial straits, were able to pay less than €2m to sign him on an initial six-month loan with the option to purchase him for around €20m in the summer. That gives the Reds a chance to test the defender out and see whether he can cut it in the Premier League, but all indications from his performances in Germany show that he is ready for the challenge. Although he took a small while to adjust from Stuttgart to Schalke in 2019, he was just a teenager then and is now much more experienced and mature - spitting incident aside. Earlier this season, he was banned for five games for spitting on an opponent, but seems to have turned the corner since then and put that disciplinary issue behind him. As a result, Klopp referred to his leadership qualities after signing him, despite the fact that Kabak is still just 20. Kabak's stats do not stand out for Schalke, but that is because he was playing in one of the worst teams the Bundesliga has ever seen - winning just one league game this season. However, Liverpool have shown an ability to sign talent from struggling clubs, notably Andy Robertson, while versatile midfielder Weston McKennie was a solid player in Schalke's Royal Blue but has been one of Juventus's key players since moving in the summer. Kabak should work well beside Virgil van Dijk when the world's best defender returns, but until then, he will serve as a reliable stopper at the back, strong in the air and in one-on-one situations. There are concerns over his passing ability, but that is something that can be improved under Klopp, who has shown an excellent knack at improving players all over the field. Additionally, he will likely be partnered by Fabinho initially, who can be the ball carrier for Liverpool with Kabak left to do the heavy-lifting in defence. He is an exciting prospect for Liverpool fans, and with such high potential, is sure to be one of the most interesting acquisitions from January's transfer window.
Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul)