Barnes still tipped Kabak to be a success story at Anfield, but did concede that he was signed as a result of being the more affordable option.
In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, it was practically impossible for Liverpool to land one of Europe’s top-rated centre-backs, especially with Napoli holding out for a ridiculous asking-price.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis said that the Serie A outfit would dismiss any offer that failed to match or surpass £90 million.
This just isn’t realistic from a Liverpool perspective, especially with Koulibaly due to turn 30 in June.
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Indeed, Jurgen Klopp has openly expressed his admiration for the imposing Senegalese sensation, per The Mirror, but Liverpool have never genuinely thrown their hat in the running in regards to a materialised move.
Barnes on Koulibaly and Kabak
So, as a result, Liverpool had to look at more attainable and financially sensible alternatives.
They did just that, too, landing Kabak on loan from Schalke with the option to make the transfer permanent at the end of the 2020/21 season.
And while Barnes believes Kabak has the credentials to become a top player at Anfield, he couldn’t help but concede that Koulibaly would have been the better ready-made option.
“I don’t know much about (Kabak). But, of course, Jurgen Klopp doesn’t buy bad players. They do their homework with these players,” Barnes said.
“If it hadn’t been January, he would have looked to Kalidou Koulibaly or some other player who would have cost £60 million or £70 million.
“I don’t know much about Kabak but I assume he will be a good player when he comes to Liverpool. I hope he is.”
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Barnes is spot-on. Indeed, there is little doubt that Koulibaly would have a more immediate impact at Liverpool – he is 10 years Kabak’s senior, after all.
Still, as Barnes rightly eluded to, this doesn’t warrant a cause to splurge £90m on a player that offers little long-term value.
Also, with Kabak, Liverpool could be making a 10 to 15 year investment. Alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho, he is learning amongst players who have won both the Premier League and Champions League.
The early signs work in Kabak’s favour, too. Against Leicester, it was unfair to place any fault at the Turkish international’s feet following the seven-minute capitulation at the King Power Stadium.
We got a more accurate glimpse of what Kabak can offer against Leipzig in midweek, which saw the 20-year-old deservedly take home the Man-of-the-Match award.
The seven-time Turkey international was recently lauded as a “future captain of a team” by former Schalke boss, David Wagner, who also said “everybody was clear he was a massive talent”.
So, it seems Liverpool could have meticulously uncovered another hidden gem. It wouldn’t be the first time that sporting director Michael Edwards has weaved his magic in the transfer window, after all.