Italian publication CalcioMarcato have reported that Liverpool have been in talks to sign Schalke defender Ozan Kobak for several weeks, and the young centre-back could be made available in a cut-price deal – as the German outfit continue to battle through financial uncertainty.
Kabak, 20, joined Schalke in the summer of 2019 from Stuttgart – and he has been an integral figure for the Bundesliga giants since. However, Schalke are desperate for an injection of cash due to the ongoing financial complications of the pandemic and are seemingly open to letting one of their most-prized assets leave in order to combat that.
The four-time Turkey international came through the ranks at Galatasaray before joining Stuttgart in January 2019. He clocked up just 17 appearances for Stuttgart, who were late relegated that season, before opting to remain in the German top-flight with Schalke. His signing on fee is reported to be in the region of £13 million.
Now just 31 matches into his career at the Veltins-Arena, Kabak is already attracting other potential suitors with Premier League champions Liverpool reportedly ready to swoop.
The report claims Liverpool have been in talks with Schalke for several weeks regarding a January move for the in-demand defender, and that asking-price has dropped by £9 million – to £22 million.
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Joel Matip returned from injury last week to partner Joe Gomez at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City on Sunday. Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk remain injured although the former could still return after the international break.
Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have also provided Jurgen Klopp with further options at the heart of the defence, although neither respectively are capable at this moment of filling the void left by Van Dijk.
Liverpool need someone who is ready to make an impact straight off the mark. Klopp cannot afford someone to come in and endure a settling in period – this raises concerns in regards to Kabak.
There is no doubting the player’s quality, nor the fact that in a few years time he could be one of the top central defenders in Europe, but at this very moment there are some worries.
Kabak has only managed to clock up just three appearances so far this campaign, one of which was an 8-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
However, the most concerning element of the defender’s game has been his discipline. Not only was he recently sent off and subsequently handed a five-match ban for a spitting incident but he has also conceded a penalty in every match he has played for Schalke this season – most recently during a 2-2 with fellow strugglers Mainz.
While Liverpool continue to monitor Kabak’s progress in the German top-flight, there is no hiding away from the fact that such high-profile mistakes are becoming difficult to ignore.
According to WhoScored, Kabak was ranked as the fifth-highest rated defender in the Bundesliga last season – losing out to Matts Hummels, Dayot Upamecano, Sebastian Schonlau and Dedryck Boyata.
Meanwhile, this campaign has seen a polar opposite in terms of form from Schalke’s defensive lynchpin who has been ranked as the lowest scoring defender in the German top-flight clocking up an average performance rating of 5.41.
With that said, Liverpool shouldn’t rule out a move altogether for Kabak but should go into any potential deal with caution – even if the deal is at a cut-price.
Other reported targets such as Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig should also not be ruled out either.
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