Ozan Kabak may be the right player at the wrong time for Liverpool

16 May 2021 01:35

Ozan Kabak's arrival in January is a big part of the reason Liverpool are still in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

The Turkish defender landed in Anfield on deadline day along with Ben Davies, but while we're yet to see definitive proof that the latter actually exists, Kabak has made his presence felt.

The Schalke loanee has helped to shore up a defence that was ravaged by injury and badly leaking. He struck up a functional partnership with Nat Phillips and has kept clean sheets in six of his 12 appearances for the club so far.

His pace and composure at the back in particular have been a breath of fresh air, and he has been a big miss from their wins over Southampton and Manchester United, despite scorelines not necessarily reflecting it.

You'd think it would be a shoo-in, then, that the Reds will trigger his £18m option to buy and make him a permanent addition this summer. But it seems it's not that simple, as recent reports claim that Jurgen Klopp is not yet convinced he is worth the outlay.

It comes amid fears that Kabak may not feature much in the first-team when a full complement of centre-backs are available. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are set to return, while all signs point to a new defender arriving this summer, whether that's Ibrahima Konate or not.

As impressive as Kabak has been, you can understand those reservations. £18m doesn't seem like a huge amount, but every penny is a prisoner in the midst of a pandemic-enforced financial crisis that has seen the club post pre-tax losses of almost £50m.

If there are no guarantees Kabak will play, then from Liverpool's perspective, there is no room in the financial accounts for sentiment.

An argument that falls in Kabak's favour is that he could provide an important bridge from this season into next. While still young, he is experienced, and if it looks like Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip are at risk of missing the opening games of 2021/22, then it may benefit Liverpool to have at least one centre-back available who is settled and acclimatised to their style of play.

But in that case, it may be more financially prudent for Liverpool to tie down Nat Phillips to a contract extension, given he has been similarly impressive in recent weeks.

It's a complex situation for Liverpool and brings something of a catch-22. They could shell out for Kabak only for him to get the Kostas Tsimikas treatment, while they could equally decide against him and regret it within weeks. It all depends on a number of variable factors that can't possibly be predicted at this stage.

But one thing is for sure: Kabak has done all he can to earn a summer move to Anfield. He's served Liverpool well, helping them claw their way back into Champions League contention, and the Reds have repaid that by giving him a platform that will help him get his big move this summer either way.

Whether that's back to Merseyside remains to be seen, but whatever happens, his loan move has been a roaring success for everyone involved.

Source: 90min