Ozan Kabak could be the partner Fabinho is looking for. Alternatively, he could be exactly what the Brazilian doesn’t need.
We think Ozan Kabak and Fabinho is the defensive partnership Liverpool will hope to build. It features a natural centre-back alongside an experienced winner – about as good as it gets for the Reds right now.
But just how well-suited are they? That’s the important question.
So it’s interesting to hear Didi Hamann’s description of Kabak to the Daily Mail today.
“He is a physical player, loves to wrestle and the English league will suit him better than the Bundesliga,” he said.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
“He’s very capable, I like him. He can be a bit rash but he is good enough to step up even though he’s young.”
Physical and rash. Well, you could be describing Fabinho.
The Brazilian is far more aggressive than any other Liverpool defender, which makes sense, given he’s naturally a midfield destroyer.
Fabinho likes to step out and meet attackers, breaking up play before they get going. And Kabak likes to do the same.
Will that mesh? It could do, given Liverpool’s high-line. A high-risk approach that, when it comes off, will make them very difficult to attack on the break.
But they are remarkably similar. At his best (i.e. outside of this disastrous Schalke 04 season) Kabak averages around 2.2 tackles per game over his career.
That’s exactly what Fabinho averages this season.
Kabak does foul a little more, though. Usually over one per game, where Fabinho keeps it to 0.8 this season.
They usually get around 0.7 offsides per game each, too, while their interceptions hover around 1.5.
One stat we do like is that while Fabinho gets dribbled past around 0.8 times per game, Kabak keeps that number down to 0.5. It suggests that while he does step out plenty, he doesn’t usually get caught out.
Although, that could also just explain the foul rate.
Will they mesh well, then? We honestly don’t know. Two very similar styles don’t usually complement one another too well.
Maybe that allows Fabinho to be a little more cautious, though, and play more as a covering player. That’s his midfield role, after all.
If that happens, they could be a very good partnership.
The risk is that Fabinho keeps stepping out, Kabak does too, and Liverpool are overly aggressive at the back. In that scenario, they’re not a good partnership.
We’ll have to see, then. Fingers crossed it works out, though, as the season might hinge on them combining well.