Liverpool new-boy Ozan Kabak has said that Virgil van Dijk was one of the main reasons why he joined the club, labelling the Dutchman as his ‘idol’.
Kabak, 20, completed a deadline-day move from Schalke as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster his defensive reinforcements following the season-ending injuries to his three of his first-choice centre-backs.
One of those currently missing, of course, is Van Dijk himself. The 29-year-old has been out on the sidelines since October 17, having ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during the 2-2 draw with Everton.
Following his switch from the Bundesliga to the Premier League, Kabak couldn’t help but heap praise on the Netherland’s captain, lauding Van Dijk as the best centre-back currently in world football.
“Virgil van Dijk is, I think, the best centre-back in the world at the moment,” he told the club’s official website. “The last three or four years he was always on his best performance. He’s strong, he’s good, he’s so fast, he’s clever. So that’s why I see him as an idol. I want to meet with him as soon as possible, to be honest.”
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Kabak’s international teammate Ömer Bayram recently shared a picture of the newly-announced Liverpool defender holding a signed shirt of 2019 UEFA Player of the Year, which Van Dijk later shared on his Instagram.
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Unfortunately for Kabak, the seven-time Turkey international will have to be patient for his opportunity to line-up alongside Liverpool’s irreplaceable No.4. Klopp claimed on Tuesday afternoon that Van Dijk is unlikely to play again this season, after all.
Still, this can give Kobak an added incentive to seize the opportunity that has been presented to him at Anfield. Liverpool have signed Kabak on a loan-to-buy deal, after all, meaning it’s up to the player himself to force the club’s hand in sanctioning a permanent deal.
According to The Athletic, Liverpool can sign the former Stuttgart centre-back on a five-year deal this summer for a fee of £18 million.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip sidelined with season-ending injuries, too, Kabak has a major opportunity to make himself a mainstay in Klopp’s starting XI ahead of Van Dijk’s inevitable return in the future.